Front Cover
 Half Title
 Title Page
 Front Matter
 Table of Contents
 List of Illustrations
 The movement for statehood
 Early agitation for statehood
 The St. Joseph convention
 The struggle for admission
 The state of Florida
 Back Matter

Title: Florida becomes a state
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00020428/00001
 Material Information
Title: Florida becomes a state
Physical Description: xi p., 1 l., : 481 p. fold. front. (map) plates, ports., facsims. ; 26 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Florida State Library
Cash, William Thomas, 1878- ( Forward )
Dodd, Dorothy, 1902- ( Editor )
Florida Centennial Commission
Publisher: Florida Centennial commission
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Fla.
Publication Date: 1945
Copyright Date: 1945
Subject: History -- Sources -- Florida -- 1821-1865   ( lcsh )
Politics and government -- Florida -- 1821-1865   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
General Note: On cover: Florida State library.
Statement of Responsibility: Foreword: Social life in Florida in 1845 <by> W. T. Cash, state librarian. Introduction and edited documents <by> DorothyDodd, archivist, Florida State library.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00020428
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: ltqf - AAB2620
notis - ADL7806
alephbibnum - 000677018
oclc - 01220009
lccn - 46027120

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
        Front Cover 3
    Half Title
        Page i
        Page ii
    Title Page
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Front Matter
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
    Table of Contents
        Page ix
        Page x
    List of Illustrations
        Page xi
        Page xii
        Page xiii
        Page xiv
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
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        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 24a
        Page 24b
        Page 25
        Page 26
    The movement for statehood
        Page 27
        Page 28
    Early agitation for statehood
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
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    The St. Joseph convention
        Page 47
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    The struggle for admission
        Page 67
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    The state of Florida
        Page 85
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    Back Matter
        Page 483
        Page 484
Full Text

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Foreword: Social Life in Florida in 1845

State Librarian

Introduction and Edited Documents

Archivist, Florida State Library


i' I V'hJ

Printed in the United States of America by
The Record Press, Inc., St. Augustine, Florida


MILLARD F. CALDWELL, Governor of Florida
Honorary Chairman

NATHAN MAYO, Commissioner of Agriculture
Honorary Vice Chairman




W. T. CASH, Secretary


This volume is issued in commemoration of the first centen-
nial of Florida's statehood. The idea of such a publication had its
inception at a meeting of the State Library Board held May 9,
1944, at which time Governor Spessard L. Holland gave assurance
of his approval. A special committee of the Florida Centennial
Commission, consisting of Mr. LaMonte Graw, Chairman, and
Messrs. Walter J. Matherly and Herbert Lamson, meeting in Lake-
land, October 26, 1944, approved the idea and the use of Centen-
nial Commission funds necessary for publication. Final plans for
the volume were made December 15, 1944, at a joint meeting of the
special committee of the Centennial Commission with the State
Library Board. Subsequently Governor Millard F. Caldwell gave
assurance of his approval and support. Preparation of the volume
has been under the direction of the State Library Board.
Florida Becomes a State consists of selected documents relating
to the admission of Florida to the Union, an introduction by
Dorothy Dodd, Archivist in the Florida State Library, and a fore-
word by W. T. Cash, State Librarian, discussing social life in Florida
about the time it became a state. The documents constitute a case-
book in the formation of a state and are, therefore, not only useful
to those interested in Florida history, but to students of the science
of government as well. The introduction is more than a skillful
interpretation of the documents; it is a splendid illustration of the
gradual progress of Florida in surmounting obstacles on the road
to statehood.
The portraits of William P. DuVal and Robert Raymond Reid,
facing page 170, were made available, respectively, through the
courtesy of Messrs. Randall Chase and B. F. Whitner, Sr., of San-
ford, and of the Webb Memorial Library, St. Augustine. That of
William D. Moseley, facing page 400, is reproduced through the
kindness of Mr. J. W. Collins, of Tallahassee.
The State Library Board hopes that following this Centennial
Volume, it can from time to time issue other publications that will
show the progress of Florida and increase the interest of its citi-
zens in their history.



PREFACE ........................................... .. . vii

FOREWORD: SOCIAL LIFE IN FLORIDA IN 1845 .................. 1


I. Early Agitation for Statehood ....................... 29

II. The St. Joseph Convention ............................. 47

III. The Struggle for Admission ........................ 67

IV. The State of Florida ............................... 85

DOCUMENTS .............................................. 99

NOTES .................................................. 439

INDEX ................................................... 471


FLORIDA IN 1845 ................................ Frontispiece
MILLARD F. CALDWELL ................................... 24

SPESSARD L. HOLLAND ..................................... 60

CAPITOL OF FLORIDA, 1945 ................................. 94


ROBERT RAYMOND REID .................................... 170

W ILLIAM P. DUVAL ...................................... 170

UNION BANK BOND ...................................... 216

CAPITOL OF FLORIDA, 1838 ................................ 276


MEMORIAL OF CITIZENS OF EAST FLORIDA ..................... 338

JOHN BRANCH .......................................... 378

W ILLIAM D. MOSELEY .................................... 400

CAPITOL OF FLORIDA AS IT LOOKED IN 1845 ................. 428




The social and cultural life of territorial Florida, just as its po-
litical and economic activities, was chiefly determined by the com-
position of its population. This included the original Spanish ele-
ment, with such other groups as had come during the British and
later Spanish periods, and those moving in from elsewhere after
American occupation began. Immigrants were chiefly from that
part of the United States south of the Mason and Dixon line, more
being from Georgia than any other state; probably some were from
every previously established state and territory of the United
States and a few came from foreign countries. As might have
been expected, territorial Floridians had the same religious be-
liefs, the same manners and customs, and the same type of educa-
tional facilities as other frontier areas of the South. The average
citizen, in 1845, spoke English, claimed to believe the Bible, favored
States' rights, opposed total abstinence, hated the Seminole Indi-
ans, took plenty of calomel, and, in spite of several years of finan-
cial depression, had faith in the future of Florida.
Not all of them, however, had the same ideas as how best to plan
for that future. Some thought that both Florida and the nation
would advance faster with the Whig party in control of the gov-
ernment. Others, just as sincere, thought the people would fare
better with the Democrats in control; and, then as now, there
were some who thought it made little difference.
The geography of the territory caused differences. The area
between the Suwannee and Apalachicola, on account of having,
in general, a soil better adapted than other sections to the agri-
culture of the time, led other parts in population, wealth and
culture. The situation of Key West made it a place apart, vary-
ing from other towns in industries carried on and somewhat in
customs followed. The Spanish and Minorcan element in St. Au-
gustine caused that place to differ considerably in customs from
the remainder of Florida, and the many Northern winter visitors,
among whom were such persons as William Cullen Bryant and
Ralph Waldo Emerson, gave the Ancient City at least a slight touch
of New England culture.


But those easily observable differences can be too greatly empha-
sized. Throughout the length and breadth of the territory the people
of Florida were very much alike. A great deal has been said, for in-
stance, of political differences between East and Middle Florida, but
except on the question of the immediate admission of Florida to the
Union, by 1840 the political opinions of the average Jefferson Coun-
ty and St. Johns County voter varied but little, and the so-called "back-
woods revolution" of that year, mentioned in Brevardv s History of
Florida, affected Leon County almost if not quite as much as Alachua.
Except in the ancient towns of St. Augustine and Pensacola, the
majority of the people were Methodists and Baptists. The better ed-
ucated folks of Duval had the same cultural standards as those of
Gadsden and even read the same books. Except in the homes of the
comparatively few wealthy planters and merchants, the same foods
were served, the same clothes worn, the same medicines taken, the
same kind of guns used in hunting from the Perdido to Biscayne Bay.


The best territorial residences were in the old cities of St. Augus-
tine and Pensacola; in the cotton-belt towns of Tallahassee, Quincy,
Marianna and Monticello; in Apalachicola, the territory's chief port;
and on the plantations where the chief cotton planters lived. As a
rule these were of substantial frame construction, although few de-
served to be called mansions. A number of cotton-belt planters,
however, were probably still living in log houses as late as 1845.
Prince Achille Murat, at Lipona, seems to have supplemented a small
main dwelling by a row of white-painted log cabins situated just in
the rear. The claim has been made that such brick mansions as the
Governor Call home,.L'the Columns" (now the Dutch Kitchen), and
Goodwood, just outside the city limits of Tallahassee, were built prior
to 1845. However, there are good reasons to believe that most of the
outstanding ante-bellum homes were built after 1845 and, generally,
after 1850. The famous Chuleotah residence of Judge John C. Mc-
Gehee, president of the Secession Convention, was not erected till
1858; and the handsome home of Chandler H. Smith, of Madison, one
of the richest men in the state at that time, is said to date from 1860.
The truth seems to be that the 1850-60 period, during which rail-
road mileage increased from 21 to 350, several plank roads were built,
sawmills were multiplied, and at least two cotton factories began op-


eration, was also a time when the construction of good homes greatly

Outside the cotton-belt area and the larger towns the great major-
ity of homes were log houses, both slave owners and non-slave own-
ers, with but few exceptions, living in such structures. The more
opulent dwelt either in double-penned or in "hip-roofed" houses. A
double-penned house was one with two log pens united by a hallway
and having a "stick-and-dirt" chimney at the end of each pen. Near-
ly always such houses had front and back porches, called "piazzas,"
extending the full length of the building on each side. Sometimes
there was a second story called the "upstairs," but oftener, to pro-
vide the extra room a second story furnished, two plank or ceiling-
board rooms were constructed on the back piazza. A "hip-roofed"
house had a roof at right angles to and lowered from that over the
single T g pen first set up, which served to cover one or more so-called
backroomss." Like double-penned houses, dwellings of this type
generally had both front and back porches, and likewise a room or
rooms was often erected on the back porch. Close to many of the
larger log houses were log kitchens, where cooking and eating took
place. These were often connected with the main dwellings by ele-
vated walks which might or might not have roofs over them. It
should be realized, however, that at the close of the territorial period
the number of single-penned log cabins in Florida exceeded the com-
bined total of all the double-penned and "hip-roofed" structures.
Courthouses, stores, and offices in frontier towns were generally
log structures. According to Charles Lanman, the celebrated trav-
eler, as late as 1854 all the houses in Newnansville, then county seat
of Alachua and location of one of Florida's three land offices, were
of this type. Bishop Henry Benjamin Whipple, in his Southern
Diary, states that Nassau County in 1844 had a log courthouse, and
there was probably no other kind in all East and South Florida ex-
cept in Monroe, St. Johns, Duval, and possibly Hillsborough Counties.
Some of the better-built log houses occasionally had imported (in
common parlance "storebought") furniture, but in most cases it was
homemade. Bedsteads were made of split pine, the corner posts be-
ing joined by wooden crosspieces. Slats rived from pine logs united
the two sides of the bedstead, and above the slats were mattresses
made by stuffing cotton ticking with grass, moss or lint cotton. Oc-
casionally there were families who owned flocks of geese, which were


picked at regular intervals in order to get material for feather beds
to place over the mattresses.
While a goodly portion of those living in log dwellings sat on home-
made benches, there was a growing number of families who had
chairs made by rural chair makers from one or more varieties of
hardwood. These, by a deft use of chisel and turning lathe to shape
and smooth the parts and a skillful joining of posts by proper ar-
rangement of rounds and backs, made reasonably comfortable chairs.
The cowhide bottoms might have to be replaced in from 10 to 20
years, but the frames would last a lifetime or longer.
Almost always, the shelves, tables, and clothes presses found in log-
built residences were homemade.
At one end of either the front or back porch of a log dwelling stood
a water shelf on which sat a large gourd or a tin or cedar bucket to
hold the water necessary for drinking and face and hand washing.
In the bucket or gourd one noted a drinking vessel, which might be
either a small gourd or a tin dipper. By the water receptacle sat a
tin basin known as a "washpan." On the log wall, at right angles
to the water shelf, a homespun or white cotton towel was either
looped to a nail or attached to a roller. Towels were generally
changed once or twice a week, having meantime acquired a sour odor.
In the better homes of town-dwellers and cotton-belt planters were
high oak bedsteads, inside whose frames were heavy cotton mat-
tresses, with feather beds often placed above them. The oaken
chairs, shelves, tables, cupboards, desks, and clothes presses were in
the style of the period, but differed greatly from much of the similar
classes of furniture found in modern homes. Chests of drawers were
common, as were tall clocks, and the more opulent had their grand
pianos with mahogany woodwork.
Some of the wealthier families went in for art. Mrs. Ellen Call
Long, in Florida Breezes, quotes Colonel Augustus Alston, Miccosukee
planter, as saying that a painting of the battle of Waterloo, which he
showed visitors, cost a crop of cotton.
Floridians both high and low, rich and poor, loved flowers and
trees. One of the first things the frontiersman, his wife, or both,
did after getting their cabin home ready for occupancy was to set out
a crepe myrtle and plant a black walnut, and as late as the beginning
of the twentieth century many ancient cabin sites could be identified


by three things: a clayey heap, where a "stick-and-dirt" chimney had
stood, a crepe myrtle bush, which might possibly have become a small
tree, and-a black walnut. The survival of myrtles and walnuts over
the long years proves that these plants were even tougher than the
pioneers who planted them.
The backwoodsman's wife liked monthly roses, which though not
as large and showy as those found in the gardens of the wealthy, had
the advantage of blooming every month in the year but one. In ad-
dition, the frontier wife also grew four o'clock, honey suckles, cape
jessamines, evening primroses, periwinkles and bachelor's buttons.
Water oak trees were often set out in front of settlers' cabins and
many of them still survive.
The flower gardens of the more opulent planters and towns-peo-
ple were in some respects similar to the better-kept front-yard flower
patches of the frontier; but the former exceeded the latter in both
variety and profusion. One seldom saw showy hydrangeas, the fan-
cier roses, the althea or the oleander in frontier flower patches, while
these were common in town and plantation gardens of Middle Florida.
Here also were seen japonicas, century plants, and various specimens
of gandiflora. Among the trees set by more affluent Floridians
were live oaks, lindens, cedars, magnolias, and often cabbage palmet-
tos which had been brought from nearby swamps and transplanted.
The water oak was everywhere a popular house-front tree. Mulber-
ries and chinaberries were set almost exclusively by frontier families.

The frontier conditions existing in practically all Florida when
American rule began was no more a deterrent to penetration by the
chief Protestant denominations of the time than they had been to
Roman Catholic priests, who came with the first Spanish colonists.
By 1822 the Methodist, Baptist, Episcopal, and Presbyterian denom-
inations had laid the foundation for their future work, and by 1845
each of these bodies had a more or less effective organization of its
In 1843 a division among the Baptists on the question of missions
caused them to split into two denominations-the Missionary Baptists
and Primitive Baptists. The former were soon afterwards organ-
ized into the Florida Baptist Association with 28 churches in Florida
and three in South Georgia; the latter continued in the Ochlockonee
Association, founded in 1827, and the Suwannee Association, founded


in 1835. The total membership of both Baptist denominations, in-
cluding Negro communicants, was probably well past the 5,000 mark
by 1845.
The growth of the Methodist Church in Florida during the terri-
torial years was so rapid that, in 1844, it was set off into a separate
conference, holding its first meeting February 6, 1845. It is true
that three of the four presiding elder's districts comprising this con-
ference included a sizable area of South Georgia, but this was prob-
ably more than compensated for by the fact that all churches west of
the Apalachicola River were placed in the Alabama Conference. At
its admission to the Union in 1845, Florida must have had, including
Negro communicants, more than 10,000 Methodists, for the recent
years had been a period of great growth, the Tallahassee church alone
having had more than 100 accessions in 1842.
In 1840 all the Presbyterian churches of Middle Florida, including
that of Marianna, were erected into the Florida Presbytery, while
those of northeastern Florida, comprising St. Johns, Duval and Nas-
sau Counties, remained in the Presbytery of Georgia. Those of ex-
treme northwest Florida, including the present Okaloosa and Walton
Counties and the area beyond, probably were and remained part of
the Alabama Presbytery.
The Florida Diocese of the Episcopal Church in 1845 had parishes
at Key West, Jacksonville, Apalachicola, Monticello, Tallahassee,
Quincy, Marianna and Pensacola, but several of them depended in
part on aid from the/Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of
the church.
At the close of the Spanish period the Roman Catholic was the only
denomination which could legally hold services, and while both Pres-
byterian and Baptist ministers did occasionally preach in private
homes without much, if any, interference, their membership was still
very small and did not compare with the number of Roman Catholic
communicants, which probably numbered as many as 3,000. But the
advantage the Catholic Church had at first was not maintained and
whatever growth occurred was small. The Pensacola and St. Augus-
tine churches continued to function but the only Roman Catholic ac-
tivity elsewhere was the maintenance of mission stations in Jackson-
ville and on Amelia Island, and a priest's holding occasional services
in Key West, Tallahassee and Apalachicola.
It is a question whether Methodists or Baptists were best adapted


to the frontier conditions of territorial Florida. At first, it is possi-
ble that the Methodist itinerant system caused it to be more effective.
The Methodists had behind them a conference organization, which
not only made strenuous attempts to see that every station or circuit
got its pastor, but also that expansion into new territory went forward
as fast as possible. What we read in George G. Smith's History of
Methodism in Georgia and Florida and Simon Peter Richardson's
Lights and Shadows of Itinerant Life is enough to convince us that
swimming streams, coarse food, fear of Indians, or naught else was
sufficient to keep the Methodist preacher from carrying the gospel
into unknown wilds.
In some ways frontier conditions favored the Baptists. As Dor-
othy Dodd well says in the July, 1945, number of the Florida Histori-
cal Quarterly, "Their simple associational form of organization and
dependence upon a volunteer ministry did not presuppose much fi-
nancial support." That lower educational standards were demanded
of Baptist pastors and missionaries than those of any other denomi-
nation then active in Florida was an additional advantage, for it
made it easier to fill vacant pulpits than would have otherwise been
the case.
Both Missionary Baptists and Methodists had revivals, often called
"big meetings," generally at annual intervals, but the "camp meet-
ing" seems to have been for the most part, if not entirely, exclusive to
the Methodists. These were held in late summer or early fall, usual-
ly at such places as in a hammock, near a spring, on a lakeside, near
a river bank (perhaps at some boatlanding point) or some other place
where people would be most likely to meet together.
Discussing the early camp meetings in his Trail of the Florida Cir-
cuit Rider, Dr. Charles Tinsley Thrift, Jr., says: "These meetings
became increasingly important in spreading Methodism throughout
Florida... In many instances visitors from remote parts of the ter-
ritory chanced to attend . returning home to organize Methodist
societies as a result of their camp-meeting experiences."
Dr. Dodd suggests that, "The missionary fervor of the Baptists and
Methodists was probably due, in part, to a religious awakening that
began to sweep Middle Florida as early as 1842." An epidemic in
1841, which, according to one authority, carried off 450 persons
(probably an overstatement) in Tallahassee out of a population of
slightly over 1,600, may have also caused many persons to become
members of churches.


The hard times following the nation-wide Panic of 1837 doubtless
had their effect, making many believe their best hope lay in a world
beyond. It seems to be a habit of mankind to feel the greatest need
of divine help when earthly affairs go badly.
Whatever the occasion for it, the last years prior to Florida's ad-
mission showed large increases in church membership, many more
joining the Baptist and Methodist denominations than the others,
though they, too, apparently made substantial growth.
According to Thomas E. Cochran's History of Public-School Edu-
cation in Florida, reported school enrollment, which, for 1840, was
given only for the academies, increased from 732 in 1840 to 5,997 in
1850. We have no figures for 1845, but the Committee on Informa-
tion and Historical Data, appointed by the Florida Historical Society
in 1944 to gather material for the centennial of Florida's admission
to the Union, estimated that total enrollment in 1845 was 3,950.
With reported school enrollment in 1840, and subsequently, so
small, it is surprising that the federal census of 1850 reported nearly
-85 percent of all white Floridians above the age of 20 able to read and
write. Does Cochran's reported enrollment give the true picture of
educational opportunities and the use made of them? Probably not.
The indications are that many frontier children were taught by
their parents and that there were numbers of short-term schools of
which there was no knowledge beyond the communities where they
were operated. It is regrettable that we know so little of education-
al conditions in the backwoods of territorial Florida.
The known places where territorial Floridians could have their
children taught were in what Cochran calls the "public schools" and
academies, in neither of which was instruction free. The principal
differences between these schools were that in the first type instruc-
tion was no more advanced, and generally not as much as that given
in the schools in our more thinly-settled sections today, and in the
second, not only were the ordinary branches of reading, writing and
arithmetic taught, but many such advanced subjects as rhetoric,
botany, foreign languages, algebra, geometry, surveying, moral phi-
losophy, chemistry, etc.
Tuition in each class of school was determined in large part by
subjects studied. In the Apalachicola Commercial Advertiser of No-


vember 22, 1845, appeared an advertisement of a school which
charged a $9.00 fee for five months' instruction in reading, writing
and arithmetic, and a fee of $10.00 for the same period for teaching a
student English grammar and geography.
In an advertisement in the Florida Sentinel of November 21, 1843,
the Quincy Male and Female Academy, one of the most reputable in-
stitutions in the territory, gave the following as the cost of instruc-
tion for a five months' term:
Orthography and reading $ 8.00
Orthography, reading and arithmetic 10.00
Orthography, reading, writing, arithmetic, grammar,
geography and history 14.00
Natural and moral philosophy, rhetoric, botany, chem-
istry, geology and mineralogy, added to the above 20.00
According to Dr._Simon Peter Richardson, author of Lights and Shad-
ows of Itinerant Life, this academy was the best school in Florida and
many students were sent there from elsewhere.
This and a number of other similar institutions were boarding as
well as day schools, that is to say students could stay at the schools
by paying board and room charges, or merely come daily, paying only
tuition. Expenses for board and tuition ranged from $116 to $140 a
While both boys and girls were included among the students of
those institutions, they were taught in separate rooms. During the
territorial period there were a few seminaries open for girls exclu-
sively, and before the close of 1845 Dr. N. M. Hentz, assisted by his
wife, Caroline Lee Hentz, the author, opened one in Pensacola.
Although many frontier teachers were woefully lacking in schol-
arship, some not even having an elementary knowledge of punctua-
tion, principals and assistants in academies and seminaries were apt
to be persons of education and culture. Dr. Hentz, prior to opening
his girls' school in Pensacola, had been professor of modern lan-
guages in the University of North Carolina, C. W. Downing and A. C.
Gillette, who ran the St. Augustine Academy, were educated at the
University of Virginia and Yale, respectively, and Amizie A. Beach,
principal of the St. Joseph Academy, was an M. A. graduate of
If the advertising columns of the territorial papers are an indica-
tion of demand, Floridians of that day were great readers.


In an advertisement in the Quincy Sentinel of March 27, 1840, the
following were only a few of the many books listed: Clark's Com-
mentary on the Bible; Dick's Philosophy of Religion; John Wesley's
Whole Works; Finney's Lectures on Revivals; Methodist Hymn
Book; Keith's Demonstration of the Truth of Christianity; Parley's
Universal History; Turner's History of the World; History of Arabia;
History of the American Congress, 1783-1798; Prescott's History of
the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella; Robinson's History of America;
Marshall's Life of Washington; Irving's Columbus; Scott's Life of
Napoleon Buonaparte; Southey's Life of Nelson; Boswell's Johnson;
Shakspere's Works; the poems of Milton, Byron, Cowper, Moore,
Mrs. Hemans, Bryant, and others; Bulwer-Lytton's Last Days of
Pompeii; Scott's Waverly; Dickens' Sketches by Boz; Cooper's Pre-
caution, and "nearly all standard novels."
The Bible was doubtless the most universal of all books in terri-
torial Florida, but others, such as Murray's English Reader, De Foe's
Robinson Crusoe, St. Pierre's Paul and Virginia, and the sermons of
Richard Flavel, were popular.
School readers are not usually listed as literature, but the /McGuf-
fey Readers, which began to appear in 1835, became just thaitto the
great rank and file of Floridians about the end of the territorial pe-
riod, remaining ,Q for the next 40 years. And why not, when within
them were found such favorites as "Mary's Little Lamb," "Twinkle,
Twinkle Little Star," "We Are Seven," "The Hare and the Tortoise,"
and the "Supposed Speech of John Adams"?
Of the 10 newspapers published in Florida in 1845, the Floridian
and the Sentinel, both published in Tallahassee, probably had most
subscribers, but it is doubtful if either of them had as many as 700.
The Pensacola Gazette, which was established March 13, 1824, was,
as the successor to the Pensacola Floridian, the oldest newspaper in
Florida in 1845. The latter paper, begun August 18, 1821, was
operated until March, 1824, when the owners sold its press to W. Has-
sell Hunt, founder of the Gazette. The three papers above named
and seven others-the Florida Herald (St. Augustine), the News (St.
Augustine), the Commercial Advertiser (Apalachicola), the New-
port Patriot, -the Florida Statesman (Jacksonville), the Key West
Gazette, and the Star of Florida (Tallahassee)-were in operation in
1845. Excepting two of the three Tallahassee papers (the Floridian
and the Sentinel), whose influence was much greater than one would
have expected from their small circulation, it is probable that the


Pensacola Gazette and the St. Augustine News had more influence
than either of the others.
Legislative sessions increased the prosperity of the papers pub-
lished at the capital, for sometimes the council paid for subscriptions
to them for all of its members. There was profit, too, for the paper
which obtained the contract to print the journals and acts of the coun-
Such outside newspapers and periodicals as the National Intelli-
gencer, Niles' Register, the Charleston Courier, Macon Telegraph,
Southern Literary Messenger, Richmond Whig, New York Herald,
New York Evening Post, Godey's Lady's Book, and the New York
Mirror, had considerable circulation in the more thickly settled areas.
Various religious and agricultural publications had some readers, but
their total circulation was small.
Lack of post offices, infrequency of mails, and, while it lasted, the
Seminole War, tended to hold down newspaper and periodical circu-
lation for most of the territorial period. At the time of admission in
1845, postal facilities were improving, but from a modern viewpoint
there was still much to be desired.
Among Florida authors of the territorial period were James Grant
Forbes, John Lee Williams, Prince Achille Murat, and Dr. William H.
Forbes' Sketches Historical and Topographical of the Floridas was
published in 1821. While useful to the student looking for source
material, it was probably meant for a "booster" book. Indications
are that it was financed by a land company of the time, for it con-
tains a plan of the proposed town of Colinton, on the Apalachicola,
situated on the site of what had once been the "Negro Fort" and sub-
sequently Fort Gadsden. While the plan is complete to the point of
showing streets and lots reserved for public use, it is doubtful if the
town ever got beyond the paper stage, and the possibility exists that
we would never have known of its being projected if Forbes had not
written a book.
John Lee Williams, author of two books-A View of West Florida
(1827) and The Territory of Florida (1837)-is said to have had the
manuscript of a novel completed or about finished at his death in
1856. His View of West Florida was apparently written to describe
the part of Florida west of the Suwannee River-and to tell what im-


migrants and other interested persons would like to know about the
soil, the climate, the natural resources, the plants and animals, and
the prospects for economic advancement therein. Counties estab-
lished and existing towns of any consequence are listed. His Terri-
tory of Florida includes a geographical description of the entire area;
a list of its chief plants and animals; the names and boundaries of its
political divisions, with data on its chief towns; some discussion of
its resources and advantages; a brief history; and an account of the
progress of the Indian War then going on.
Prince Achille Murat was the author of several books, all written
in French. The best known is Esquisse Morale et Politique des
Etats-Unis, republished in translation as America and the Ameri-
cans. First published in 1832, this interesting book was Murat's at-
tempt to interpret America and its institutions to Europeans.
Dr. William H. Simmons, for many years a resident of St. Augus-
tine, had apparently not moved to Florida when he wrote his Notices
of East Florida (1822), but he had just visited the area and in his
book gives his impressions of it, adding thereto an account of the
Seminole Indians.


The parties given by the planters living in the more populous areas
of Florida are interestingly discussed by Mrs. Ellen Call Long in
Florida Breezes.
The men in attendance at a party would first deposit hats and over-
coats in a small house generally used as the planter's office, and, be-
fore going to the main hall, such as were in the mood would help
themselves to drinks of wine, punch, apple toddy, cordial or some
other beverage calculated to stimulate them for the occasion.
After proceeding to the main residence, the gentlemen would, after
a few preliminaries, find partners, and while chosen musicians played
fiddles, banjoes, or other instruments, gay pairs would merrily dance
for hours. By midnight their exercises would make the dancers
hungry for the huge supper that had been prepared.
Noting the immensity as well as the variety of one of these feasts,
a visitor new to such an occasion asked a black-eyed girl the question,
"Who makes all these things?"
"When anybody [i.e., any family] determines to give a party," re-


plied the girl, "their friends soon know it, and every one feels it a
duty to help. Mrs. so and so makes the best of this, and Mrs. some-
body else makes that the best; so all our neighbors come to help. We
have servants, of course, to do all the drudgery, but we must direct

Food was not the only thing for the delectation of those partaking
of those suppers. There were toasts and songs and maybe recita-
tions, and always stories and anecdotes.
In addition to these parties, the Middle Florida planter class had
frequent picnics, strawberry suppers, and various other social en-
tertainments. During sessions of the Legislative Council there were
balls and other parties at the City Hotel or in the homes of Tallahas-
see residents. At these political discussions were frequent.
At Tallahassee, and doubtless Monticello and Marianna, there were
tournaments where knights drawn up in front of the gathered crowds
listened to orators who referred them to the days of chivalry and
pointed to the fair ladies assembled to reward with approving smiles
their deeds of activity and valor. Three arches with a ring suspended
from each were placed in position at points 50 yards apart, and each
knight started 90 yards from the first arch, 15 seconds being allowed
him to make the distance. When a bugle blast sounded the charge,
a knight rode forth in an attempt to take one or more of the rings.
Other knights followed until each had his chance.
The first attempt to take rings from the arches was followed by a
second and a third. The knight who took most rings during the
three attempts was allowed to designate his choice of the assembled
fair ladies as Queen of Love and Beauty, in doing which he advanced,
bearing upon his lance an artistically wrought crown with which he
decorated his maiden's brow.
Tallahassee, Apalachicola and St. Joseph had their race tracks and
the racing season, generally, occurring in January and February
each year, was an event that the elite looked forward to as much as
did the old Romans to the sports of the arena.
Racing did not take place contemporaneously at each place. After
the St. Joseph races came those in Apalachicola and Tallahassee, in
order that those interested in the "sport of kings and the king oft
sports" could, when the five-day program was completed at one place,
go to another and enjoy the excitement all over again. The stand at


the Tallahassee race track, says Mrs. Long, "was radiant with plumes
and flowers, velvet and silk, but the beauty of freshness was supreme
in the white muslins and silken scarfs, as worn by the young ladies in
such graceful becomingness."

Often the women were as much interested in betting on their fa-
vorite horses as the men, but both women and men, in so far as we
are informed, took losses as well as winnings in good humor. Peter
W. Gautier, Jr., editor of the St. Joseph Times, admitted, after the
St. Joseph races of 1841, that he had lost too much on them to attend
those to follow in Tallahassee and Apalachicola.

While territorial Florida was not a place where dramatic artists
could have grown rich from patronage received, at times theatrical
performances were witnessed at St. Augustine, Pensacola, Tallahas-
see, Apalachicola, and probably St. Joseph. We are told by Dr. S.
Walter Martin in his recent book, Florida During the Territorial
Days, that traveling companies of players who visited Pensacola
sometimes remained for weeks, so popular was the drama there.
During the latter part of the Florida War, 1835-42, Coacoochee, one
of the Seminole leaders, and his band massacred a number of persons
belonging to a party of players who had been performing in St. Au-
gustine. The Indians appropriated the costumes of the players.

Townspeople and planters did not have all the amusement. Their
necessary work gave occasion for some of the commonest social en-
joyments of frontier families. Following house-raisings, rail-split-
tings and log-rollings often occurred dances, called "frolics" by the
frontier folks who participated. During late autumn and winter no
other incentive was needed than the desire to get together. The fa-
vorite dance was the cotillion for which were required eight dancers
(four of each sex). Before dancing began, a fiddler would sit down
on bench or chair by the cabin door, get his instrument in tune, and
as he began drawing his bow over the fiddle strings, a man sitting at
right angles to him would, with one or two broom sedge straws, beat
the strings, making a "toong, toong" sound. Someone who could re-
member the steps would call them out, beginning, "Honor your part-
ner, lady on the left and balance all. Swing your partner, your cor-
ners too, and all promenade." Then followed multitudinous "sas-
shaying," ladies "floating," balancing to partners, and what not, till
the cotillion caller decided to stop the set by hallooing out, "Right
hands to your partners, gents to the center and ladies to your seats."


Among the tunes played by backwoods fiddlers on their cheap in-
struments, which, nevertheless, gave forth delightful strains, were
such as "Cindy," "The Girl I Left Behind Me," "Hell after the Year-
ling," "Sugar Babe," and "Weevly Wheat."
A great gathering point for frontier men and boys was at the water
mill on grinding days. Not only was there swimming in the mill-
pond, but much playing of fox and goose, and checkers, and such card
games as "seven up," "blind jack" and "casino," in the millhouse
while waiting for the slow grinding of corn into meal and hominy.
The backwoods cane grindings usually occurring in late November
amounted, in reality, to social events for the many who usually had
but little other opportunity for mixing and mingling with folks out-
side their own families.

Generally there were only one or two cane mills for miles around,
and all the grinding for the entire area was done there. Syrup-mak-
ing (many families also made some brown sugar) often lasted for
a month, during which time, especially on Saturday nights, crowds
would gather, the older folks congregating around the kettle where
the cane juice was boiled to syrup or sugar, while the young folks
would indulge in games. On the closing night of a cane grinding
there might be a candy pull followed by such singing plays as "Mr.
Coffee Likes Sugar and Tea," "We're Marching 'Round the Level,"
"Steal Partners," and "Fishing for Love."
While the frequent quilting bees of the frontier would probably be
considered monotonous work by the modern female of the species,
during the territorial period and long after they gave women who
seldom had opportunity to get around a chance to gratify their social
proclivities. As wives, spinsters and teen-age girls sat around quilt-
ing frames, between passing of snuff boxes, there was much gossip,
much discussion of such matters as weaknesses of particular mem-
bers of the sex known to the quilters, hawks getting the biddies, how
hard it was to make Old Whiteface or Old Redside give down their
milk, what particular skill had been exercised in making Mollie's
new dress, and the like. It is doubtful if women of today enjoy their
bridge clubs any better than backwoods women of the 1840's enjoyed
their quiltings.
Christmas was a great event wherever there were sufficient peo-
ple to form crowds, whether in the larger towns, the planter section,
or out on the piney-woods frontier. This, said a Northern visitor


mentioned by Mrs. Long in Florida Breezes, "is the negro's carnival;
they are permitted a week of idleness in holiday; those of the planta-
tions visit town in their best attire, hence, general greeting, feasting
and dancing among them."
The whites also celebrated. To quote the Northern visitor men-
tioned by Mrs. Long, "The early 'egg-nog' before breakfast is a fea-
ture that commemorates Christmas morning; an immense bowl full
is manufactured of this ambrosial food, or drink, for it partakes of
both, and this every member of the family, white and black, are ex-
pected to share."
No doubt there were Christmas trees, too, and certainly there were
Christmas gifts which even the Negroes shared.
Charles Lanman tells how Christmas was celebrated in Newnans-
ville, one of Florida's frontier towns. "High and low, rich and poor,
good and bad, the sober and intemperate, white and black, the wise
and the foolish," he said, "have come together, from village and from
country cabins, to enjoy the most ancient festival of Christmas with
the most boisterous hilarity. I have witnessed groups and scenes
that were perhaps more peculiar than beautiful, and more exciting
than interesting. The exercises of Christmas holiday usually com-
mence with a casual meeting of the blacks by twos and threes at the
corners of the streets, and, by the time all things are ready for a foot
race, out step ... a bevy of sable damsels, dressed in white, with fancy
turbans and huge pantalets and scarlet sashes around their waists;
and then follow the scrub races, upon which the planters bet their
dollars and the darkies their shillings [probably quarters or dimes
were meant]; then the drinking and the merriment proceed . In
the mean time a very nice young man, whom everybody praises, but
who will have his 'spree,' has jumped into his buggy, and is racing
his horse through the streets for his own private gratification, where-
by he proves to the satisfaction of all who see him that his spirits are
as abundant as they are good.
"Now the banjo and the fiddle are taken up, and two negroes are
placed each upon a dry-goods box for the purpose of ascertaining
which of the twain can dance the longest time without stopping to
breathe ... Anon we have a systematic street fight between a couple
of rowdies; and then the motley crowd gather around an old hunter,
who has just entered the village, riding upon a gaunt horse, and
bringing to market the hams of his one hundred and fortieth deer of


the season. At the approach of night the pastimes and noises of the
day... subside, and give place on the part of the negroes to the break-
down dance and religious services; and while the more jovial make
night hideous by their animal hilarity, those who are serious accom-
plish the same end by their meanings and wailings and wild singing.
Indeed the perfect freedom which the negroes here enjoy during
Christmas week struck me with surprise, and I am inclined to believe
that if we have any tears to shed they should be for the master rather
than for the slave."
That the recreations of territorial Florida sometimes led to crime
is indicated by presentment No. 2 of the Leon County grand jury at
the April, 1843, term of court. The jurors said that, "On our oaths
we present the Marion Race Course [the one near Tallahassee] as a
public nuisance, a hotbed of vice, intemperance, gambling and pro-
fanity, deserving the just censure of every lover of decency and good
order." Among the signers of this presentment were Francis Eppes,
grandson of Thomas Jefferson, and William Bloxham, father of W.
D. Bloxham who nearly 40 years later became governor of Florida.
The unfairness and inequality of law enforcement in latter terri-
torial Florida was vigorously set forth in a protest to the Senate of
the Legislative Council by two members of that body from the East-
ern District-James G. Cooper, of Duval County, and Gabriel Priest,
of Alachua County--on March 12, 1844. The occasion was the pas-
sage by the Senate, on March 8, by one majority, of a resolution for
the relief of James G. Landon, John M. Hanson, and others, sureties
on the bail bonds of John McMullen and D. P. Bryant, two fugitives
from justice.
The protest stated that the two men were Tallahasseeans who, in
the spring of 1840, while temporarily in Jacksonville, killed two citi-
zens of that town, one a peace officer and the other an inoffensive
man with a large family. After a coroner's jury had found McMul-
len and Bryant guilty of murder, they were carried to St. Augustine
jail for safekeeping. "The worthy and able judge," charged the
protesting senators, erroneously admitted them to bail, which had
been furnished by certain St. Augustine citizens after assurance by
influential Leon County friends of the prisoners that they would in-
demnify the bondsmen against loss.
Notwithstanding the indictment of McMullen and Bryant at the


first term of court in Duval County following the killing, the two
Tallahasseeans failed to appear for trial; in fact, prior to January,
1842, they had not been rearrested. However, Judge Isaac H. Bron-
son, who had allowed the bail, happening to see McMullen on the
streets of Tallahassee while the judge was there in January, 1842, to
attend a session of the Court of Appeals, had McMullen arrested and
placed in jail.

McMullen soon escaped from this second imprisonment and Bryant
had not been taken. Now, nearly four years after the alleged crime,
the two senators asserted that the relief of Landon, Hanson, and the
other bondsmen was sought on the grounds that Bryant had died and
McMullen was in a Mexican prison. The senators further charged
that relief of the bail would be a precedent fraught with monstrous
evil, establishing the fact that criminals with rich and influential as-
sistance (such as the friends who early intervened in McMullen's and
Bryant's behalf after the killing) would be unpunished for their
crimes, while the poor, unknown, and friendless might be hanged as

The senators argued that there was no certainty of Bryant's death
and that McMullen's release from prison was entirely possible. The
real reason, Cooper and Priest asserted, for the resolution of relief,
was that certain Tallahasseeans, who were obligated to the bail,
sought relief from their own embarrassment.

The year of the Jacksonville killing (1840) seems to have been the
worst for crime in the history of the territory. In Leon County the
situation was especially turbulent, judging by an editorial in the St.
Joseph Times of September 4, 1840, which reads as follows:

"The papers at Tallahassee, more than confirmed by private re-
ports, show a disturbed state of society in Leon county, partaking of
a personal and party character much to be regretted by every citizen
of the Territory. We can't see why the gentlemen of Leon county
cannot differ in politics as in other parts of the country without per-
mitting unfriendly feelings to disturb their social relations. Vio-
lence and proscription are not the best tests of sincerity and honesty
of purpose. Argument and a temperate discussion of principles are
the only weapons of a patriot politician. Pistols, Bowie Knives and
Bludgeons may frighten slaves, but cannot intimidate freemen.
We cannot commend to the parties of Middle Florida, better advice


than that engraved on the escutcheon of the great State of Georgia:
During the Leon County disorders mentioned by the St. Joseph
Times, Governor Robert Raymond Reid took soldiers engaged in Sem-
inole fighting and stationed them in Tallahassee, explaining his ac-
tion to the Secretary of War, in a letter dated August 12, 1840, as
necessitated by the lawlessness of conditions, which made more than
local protection necessary to maintain peace. Governor Reid's ac-
tion caused loud protests, but conditions were undoubtedly bad.
In a letter in the Florida State Library from John S. Tappan, a
New Englander who visited Tallahassee in November, 1841, to his
cousin, Benjamin French, is this statement: "A year ago you could
not walk the Streets [of Tallahassee] without being armed to the
teeth." Continuing his letter, Tappan said: "Now its different for
during the last summer out of a population of 1600 inhabitants God
has seen fit to take away 450 of them composing most all the Gam-
blers & Blacklegs of the place."
The disorders around Tallahassee had their inception in political
discussions which became so heated as to result in Florida's most
famous duel, fought by Augustus Alston, a Miccosukee planter, on
the Whig side and General Leigh Read, a leader among Leon County
Democrats. The affair occurred December 12, 1839, resulting fatal-
ly to Alston. On the night of January 6, 1840, Willis Alston, a
brother of the deceased, tried to kill Read in the City Hotel, but the
result was merely a severe wound. A little more than a year later,
Alston shot Read from ambush, mortally wounding him. Escaping
from a none-too-closely guarded Leon County jail, he went to Texas
where he soon met death at the hands of some of Read's friends who
had previously moved there.
The Alston-Read duel was only one of a number which occurred
during the territorial period, although as early as 1832 dueling had
been made unlawful by an act of the Legislative Council, one of
whose provisions prevented either party to the duel, or his second,
from ever holding public office. But according to Dr. S. Walter Mar-
tin's Florida During the Territorial Days, the same council which
passed the anti-dueling law pronounced a man failing to accept a
challenge a coward.
In any article as brief as this foreword must be, it would be out of
the question fully to discuss crime conditions in Florida on the eve


of statehood. Suffice it to say that these were probably no worse
and no better than they were in other American frontier sections
during their periods of settlement. However, they were bad. Gov-
ernor John Branch, in his 1845 message to the council, said:
"The Criminal Code, wisely designed to protect the citizen and
preserve the peace and dignity of the country, has manifestly failed
to accomplish its object; otherwise we should not so often witness
the violation of both private and public justice. It may be that some-
thing is owing to the want of a penitentiary and common jails, or an
adequate revenue to enable the officers to prosecute with effect, or
to the mal-administration of existing laws. Let the cause be what it
may, it is your solemn duty to trace it out and apply the remedy."
Prior to the depression beginning in 1837, the effects of which
were not fully felt in Florida till after 1840, many wealthy planters
and business people of the towns visited various Northern and South-
ern resorts, but the fall of cotton prices, the failure of the Union
Bank to remain more than nominally "open," and the foreclosure of
the loans of numerous borrowers who could not meet their interest
did much to stop this northward summer exodus. Instead, many
Middle Florida families went to Bel Air, a village in the sand hills
three miles south of Tallahassee, to St. James Island, or to St. Joseph,
prior to its destruction in 1841. It would not be correct to say all
who went to these resorts were driven there by financial troubles,
but undoubtedly the majority were.
By 1845 Mineral Springs (now known as Suwannee Springs) and
White Springs-both on the Suwannee River and only 12 miles apart
-were having many visitors both from within and without Florida,
some using them as health resorts, others going there because both
were delightful places, and, according to Charles Lanman, had good
Hard times was not the sole cause for lack of travel. During
Florida's territorial period even those in good financial shape trav-
eled much less than now. We who grumble about our sometimes
dusty trains and the service furnished by our bus lines would grum-
ble even more if we had to go back to the stages of 100 years ago.
Charles Lanman describes those in which he rode from Newnansville
to Tallahassee as "dilapidated stage wagons," but bad as they were
he could not always get transportation as good or as cheap as they


furnished. He and one or two companions were charged $24.00 for
being driven from Garey's Ferry on Black Creek to Newnansville, a
distance of 48 miles. Lanman said they only had one breakdown on
the way, "but then," he added, "the road was very good."
Notwithstanding Lanman's statement (probably made ironically),
the roads of territorial Florida were only relatively good. There
were complaints about the road from St. Augustine to Tallahassee
from its first construction. Much of this highway and other public
roads-not to mention the ordinary sort-was practically impassable
after heavy rains. The causeways would come loose and make them
not only less than no protection against water, but what amounted
to floating menaces. One of the first complaints against the St.
Augustine road was the failure of the contractor to fell trees where
the highway ran low enough to keep them from striking and stopping
vehicles. Bad roads thus interfered with and sometimes stopped
stage travel, made mails irregular, and were one of the reasons why
a good many Floridians financially able to travel frequently remained
at home.
Travel was not curtailed because of high hotel rates. The City
Hotel at Tallahassee, then probably the largest in Florida, in 1845
furnished its patrons room and meals at $1.00 per day and adver-
tised a monthly rate of $20.00. In the best hotels of Apalachicola
the rate was slightly higher-$1.50 per day and $30.00 per month,
but nowhere was hotel cost excessive.


Women of the planter classes or equivalent social set dressed ac-
cording to the latest Paris fashions as soon as they got the styles
from their latest Godey's. By 1841, according to Carl Kohler's His-
tory of Costume, "a firm basis had been laid for further progress [in
dress]. Long, tight sleeves, wide, padded skirts that entirely con-
cealed the feet, and bodices high at the neck and padded in various
places-all these constituted a very practical style of dress for wom-
en." From 1820 on, white, though still much worn, no longer pre-
dominated. If a dress was white the waist belt was colored. The
"ham shaped" sleeves, enormously wide at the top, which became
so popular about 1830, changed after 1840 to sleeves tight all the way
down. The upper part, which had exaggerated the width of the fig-
ure across the shoulders, and the bodice were made as plain as possi-
ble. The waist was still long, but the neck was much less low. The


word "waist" came to mean "bodice." Yearly the skirt length in-
creased. Underneath dresses had the same width at top and foot
and were pleated at the waist.
Men attending fashionable parties in the 1840's wore broadcloth
dress suits; on ordinary occasions frock coats of black, blue, or varie-
gated colors, generally, but not always, with pants to match. Linen,
gingham, or other light material were used for making men's summer
In frontier sections women were glad to get prettily colored calicos
for Sunday dresses and checked homespuns for week days. Men
often wore homemade jeans coats and pants to whatever gatherings
they attended in autumn, winter and early spring. In summer
homemade suits of imitation linen or light cotton cloth were often
worn, but not infrequently men and boys at this season went to
church or other gatherings in their shirt sleeves.


No social history of territorial Florida would be complete without
some reference to the superstitions, the customs, the strange treat-
ments for common diseases, and the ballads sung, even by the illiter-
Many put the cobs from which seed corn had been shelled in the
nearest running stream to keep the corn from "firing" (leaves turn-
ing yellow prematurely). Corn planted on a growing moon would
make large stalks, but the harvester at gathering time would find
that the seemingly big ears were nearly all shuck. The moon also
had its effect on sweet potatoes. Those set on a growing moon would
make abundant vines, but only a few stringy potatoes, while such as
were set on the decrease might not have so much vine, but when dig-
ging time came there would be plenty of potatoes.
The "increase of the moon" was, however, a very propitious time
for making soap and for hanging salted pork in the smokehouse.
The ingredients used in soap boiling would make a full pot and the
pork parts-such as hams, middlings and shoulders-would be in-
sured against shrinkage.
On south moon, or when it was "south under," was the time to go
fishing if one expected luck, but luck would vanish if the fisherman
was careless enough to step over his pole before he started.


Warts were carried away by a dozen methods, one of which was
to take a drop of blood from the offending protrusion, put it on a
grain of corn, and then feed this to a chicken. However, there were
skilled conjurers in practically every fair-sized community who made
warts disappear by methods known only to themselves. Also there
were men who could cure babies of the thrush (the frontier name was
"thrash") by merely taking them aside and going through the nec-
essary performance. Fire was "talked out" of the accidentally
burned. Any man able to do this could teach a woman the art, and
likewise women performers could instruct men; but if either ex-
plained the how to one of their own sex it was "never again."
It was just too bad if anyone carried an axe with handle in it
through a dwelling, for some member of the family living there would
die that year sure. Nor must any female in the interest of tidiness
sweep dust from a dwelling after dark, as dire results would follow.
It was very risky to start work on Friday if it could not be finished
that week, and just too bad for one to turn back after starting on any
journey unless he first made a cross mark and spat on it.
There were girls who cooked "dumb suppers" in order to find out
in advance who their future husbands were to be. The usual way
was for two girls to prepare a meal without saying a word while the
cooking went on. If the rule was strictly adhered to, it was claimed
that when the food was placed on the table the spirits of the maidens'
future husbands would appear in bodily form to take part in the
meal. Another way for a maid to determine her future husband in
advance was to take a mirror to a well on the longest day in the year
and, exactly at high noon, focus it over the water, at which time she
would see her future husband distinctly and unmistakably. This
method of advance husband determination was still practiced by
some Florida girls after the opening of the twentieth century.

Sleeping with a Bible under one's pillow prevented dreaming.
Squeezing one's pocket knife or turning one's pocket wrong side out-
ward stopped so-called "death owls" from making their scary noises.
"Vinegar and nails," that is, a liquid made by soaking rusty nails
in vinegar, was a particularly good treatment for puny children.
(Who knows but what this gave an idea to the manufacturers of mod-
ern iron tonics?) Asafoetida worn around the neck would keep off
infectious diseases. Eating white sand from the bed of a running
stream would prevent anyone who had been bothered with boils from


having them again. Those subject to nosebleed could cure the trou-
ble if they would, at the next attack, let the nose bleed over blue

Territorial Floridians could often be heard singing ballads which
originated in Great Britain or during the colonial period, many if not
most of the singers being unable to tell from whence they came.
Some of the more popular songs were: "Old King Cole," "The House
Carpenter," "Lord Thomas and Fair Ellinor," "Sweet Mary," and
"Lord Randal, My Son."

The entire social life of Florida was modified by the frontier con-
ditions then existing, by the long Indian War lasting from the latter
part of 1835 till August 14, 1842, and by the get-rich-quick ambitions
of so many. However, with all the crime abroad in the land and
other excesses found chiefly in Middle Florida, life in the territory,
in general, went on with reasonable smoothness. The small farmers
in Alachua, Walton, Hamilton, Columbia, or Marion, seldom heard of
the strife in the claylands, of duels fought between leading territorial
politicians, or of the atmosphere of sin at the Marion Race Course.

Life in Florida, as it reached statehood, was not too hard, except
for that minority which had almost upset itself by the economic risks
it had taken. The great majority could raise its corn, sugar cane,
and sweet potatoes on fertile cow-penned land, for if a settler did not
I have cattle himself some owner of a large herd would pen him enough
Sto "trod" his land and furnish his milk and butter besides, in return
for his looking after the cattle for the three or four months of pen-
ning season. There were huckleberry patches in the woods, and
blackberries needed little encouragement to get them started; fish
could be caught with but little effort in a hundred rivers and creeks
and in ten thousand lakes and ponds, in numerous tidal creeks, and
in the Gulf. Deer were so abundant that the writer's grandfather,
who settled within the present Taylor County not long after the close
of the territorial period, killed 55 in five months. Under such con-
ditions, unless a settler was hopelessly lazy it was almost impossible
to starve.

There were, of course, many inconveniences from a modern point
of view. There was not a kerosene lamp in the world until 14 or 15
years after Florida became a state, nor would there be an electric
light for more than 30 years to come. Women had no sewing ma-

Governor of Florida


chines until after Elias Howe's invention in 1846. Dr. John Gorrie
did not patent his ice-making machinery in the United States till
May 6, 1851, six years after Florida's admission to the Union. In
1845 the telegraph had been in use less than one year, and it is certain
no line had reached Florida. The telephone was, of course, 30 years
in the future.

The old-fashioned fireplaces in which the great majority of women
cooked the meals of their households were so inconvenient in com-
parison with what even the poorer classes have today that most of us
do not realize how far we have traveled in one hundred years.

There are still backwoods frolics, but no maiden now walks several
miles to get to them. Today children both rich and poor, in addition
to free schooling, have even their books furnished. The few Florid-
ians who subscribed to newspapers in 1845, if the papers came from
any distance, would have thought themselves fortunate to get them
within two weeks of publication. Now we get the New York, Chi-
cago, or Washington papers the second day after publication, and
with our radios know the news before they arrive.

The friction match came into use in 1836, but many Floridians in
1845 still struck fire with flint and steel. The photographic
process had been perfected enough for use six years prior to Florida's
admission, but as late as 1850 there were not more than half a dozen
"daguerreotypists" (as photographers were then called) in the state.

Still these century-ago Floridians had much to enjoy. When they
picnicked, went to preaching, had dinner parties or dances, chatted
close to syrup kettles at cane grindings, or gossiped around quilting
frames; when they drank their thirty-cent a gallon whiskey; when
they shot their muzzle-loading guns at deer, turkeys, ducks and alli-
gators; when, far away from a doctor, the "granny" took care that
each new baby made proper entrance into the world; when many
houses had the reputation of being haunted and there were, as some
believed, witches abroad in the land; with all these numerous bene-
fits and annoying nuisances, there were no Darwin's works to make
people believe men were merely ascended from lower animals, no ap-
pendicitis (in so far as name was concerned), no fear of atomic


bombs, no doubt of the reality of a heaven for the few or a hell for
the many.
What an interesting place was our Florida when, on March 3, 1845,
John Tyler signed the bill admitting it to the Union!



By the treaty of February 22, 1819, Spain ceded the Floridas to the
United States. The treaty guaranteed to the inhabitants of the Prov-
inces of East and West Florida incorporation into the Federal Union
as soon as might be consistent with the principles of the constitution.'
Unlike the Ordinance of 1787, which specifically promised the forma-
tion of states in the territory northwest of the Ohio River, the treaty
of cession only contracted for the incorporation of the inhabitants of
the Floridas into the Union. A similar guaranty, in the treaty of
April 30, 1803, to inhabitants of the Louisiana Purchase had been
fulfilled in part in 1812 by the admission of Louisiana as a state.
But might not the guaranty be met by the merging of the provinces
with already existing states? If separate statehood were implied
by the terms of the treaty, were the provinces to become one state, or

These questions received the attention of Congress in 1822 when
the organic law for the government of the provinces was formulated.
The act of March 3, 1821, providing for carrying into execution the
treaty of cession,2 had been a stop-gap, designed to implement the
recently ratified treaty as quickly as possible. Under it President
Monroe had appointed Andrew Jackson provisional governor of the
Floridas. "In consideration of the pre-existing division, and of
the distance and difficulty of communication" between Pensacola
and St. Augustine, he had named two secretaries, one to reside at
Pensacola, the other at St. Augustine. He considered, however, that
the "provinces were formed into one territory."3 Since the act of
March 3, 1821, would expire by its own limitation when Congress
should adjourn in 1822, the President recommended that Congress
establish, as soon as practicable, a government "over that Territory,
on the principles of our system."4

The propriety of constituting two territories in the Floridas was
considered and rejected in committee, partly on the grounds of econ-
omy and partly because of the opposition to two new slave territories
engendered by the controversy over the admission of Missouri in
August, 1821.6 The legislatures of both Georgia6 and Alabama had
passed resolutions late in 1821 favoring the annexation to their


states, respectively, of East Florida and West Florida. The Georgia
resolutions do not appear to have been sent to Congress, but those
from Alabama were presented in both houses.7 The latter were re-
inforced by a memorial from citizens of West Florida requesting an-
nexation.8 Singularly enough in view of the subsequent atti-
tude of the section, citizens of East Florida petitioned against any
division of the territory.9 The proposal to annex West Florida to
Alabama was killed in the Senate, after considerable debate, by a
vote of 25 to 19 on the ground that, though not inexpedient in princi-
ple, it was premature.10 The act of March 30, 1822, therefore, con-
stituted all the territory of the ceded provinces as the Territory of
Florida. Provision was made for a governor, secretary, judiciary,
and Legislative Council to be appointed by the President, and for a
delegate to Congress to be elected by the people."

From the first meeting of the Legislative Council in July, 1822,
most Floridians believed, and many hoped, with Governor William
P. DuVal, that Florida would, "in a few years, assume a rank among
the states of our great and happy union."12 Even though residents
of East Florida might be sufficiently irritated by inconveniences in-
cident to union with West Florida to petition Congress, later in the
year, for a separate territorial government, they asked it only "until
the population of both sections united, may be adequate to the forma-
tion of a state."13 And when the question of the annexation of West
Florida to Alabama was again agitated in 1826-27, the Legislative
Council, by this time elective and composed of five members from
West Florida, two from Middle Florida, and six from East Florida,
resolved unanimously that division of the territory would be contrary
to the expressed will of their constituents "and completely calculated
to destroy that which is their best hopes, that of becoming a state

As the time for the federal census of 1830 approached, it was hoped
that Florida would be shown to have a population sufficient to entitle
her to admission. Governor DuVal, in his message to the 1828 Leg-
islative Council, "confidently believed" that this would be the case.15
An anonymous correspondent of the Pensacola Gazette, himself
opposed to statehood on the score of expense, stated that with "many
of our citizens" it was "a favorite subject of conversation."'6 At a
public dinner at Magnolia in 1830, "the following toast was drank
with much approbation:


'Florida-as impatient to break into the union, as South Carolina
is to break out; perhaps it would be better for both to stay where
they are, until better acquainted.' "17

The returns of the census should have effectively dampened the
ardor of statehood enthusiasts. Florida's total population was
less even than the existing ratio of representation, which would be
increased on the basis of this census. James D. Westcott, Jr., acting
governor, felt it necessary, however, to recommend to the Legislative
Council of 1832 that no application for admission be made. It was
improbable that Florida could be admitted for another 10 years, he
said. In any event, statehood would be undesirable until the ter-
ritory should have become free of debt and better able to meet the
expenses of government which, under the territorial system, were
borne by the United States. But in discussing the disputed Georgia-
Florida boundary, he suggested that Georgia, if permitted to retain
state lands therein, might be willing to cede to Florida several of her
border counties. Such cession, he thought, might give Florida suf-
ficient population to enable her to apply for admission as a state.'s

It is to be doubted whether this was more than a passing comment
on the part of Westcott. The suggestion, however, seems to have
been taken seriously. In 1833, the Committee on the State of the
Territory submitted for the council's approval a memorial requesting
the states of Alabama and Georgia to cede to Florida their territory
lying south of the parallel of 31" 15', in order to facilitate the admis-
sion of Florida to the Union. The argument advanced was that of
Southern interests. Were Florida to be divided and annexed to her
neighbors, the population thus gained would entitle neither Georgia
nor Alabama to additional representation in Congress. Yet the in-
terests of the South urgently demanded additional congressional
strength to check the sectional legislation anticipated when the ter-
ritories in the northwest should become states. By complying with
this request, Alabama and Georgia would" bring to their sides a state
"presenting with them in the general Congress an undivided front
in the support of the great principles of southern policy."19 The
memorial failed of passage by a non-sectional tie vote,20 but the argu-
ment of Southern interests thus advanced was to be brought forward
time and again, and with increasing urgency as the antislavery move-
ment gained momentum in the North.

Southern interests aside, there were several reasons why Florid-


ians wished to enter the Union. As the old Spanish population was
submerged under the tide of American immigrants, the feeling grew
that a "state of provincial vassalage" was inconsistent with the status
of American freemen. Republican institutions were demanded by
the genius of a free people. A limited system of self-government
had been extended to the territory by the grant of the privilege, in
1826, of electing members of the Legislative Council and, in 1829,
of electing all county officers except justices of the peace. But the
highest executive and judicial officers remained federal appointees,
not answerable either directly or indirectly to the people. And all
too often, in the view of Floridians, the demands on federal patron-
age caused the appointment of outsiders whose sole interest in Flor-
ida was the desire to find themselves on a federal payroll or to re-
gain their health in a genial climate. Even where such appointments
were unobjectionable on any score but that of non-residence, they
deprived Floridians of the opportunity of indulging in that favorite
avocation of the ante-bellum Southerner-politics. Congress, too,
retained the right to review and, on occasion, annul the legislation
of the council, which resulted in a feeling of irresponsibility on the
part of the latter. Until Florida's government should acquire the
stability of constitutional sanctions, it was thought that migration
from other states, and thus the development of the country, would be
retarded. There was also the desire, natural in a community of lim-
ited public resources where land was one of the two chief forms of
wealth, to gain control of the sixteenth sections and the two town-
ships reserved for schools and seminaries when Florida should be-
come a state.

These reasons, though not so baldly stated, were urged by the Com-
mittee on the State of the Territory, which, in 1834, reported a bill
to submit to the people of the territory the question of state govern-
ment. After advancing the arguments in favor of statehood, the
committee considered the two great objections of expense and insuf-
ficient population. Until this time it seems to have been generally
assumed that Florida could not be admitted until her population, in
federal numbers, should at least be equal to the congressional ratio
of representation. The committee, however, construing together
the constitutional clauses giving Congress the power to admit new
states and providing that each state shall have "at least one repre-
sentative," concluded "that a state may exist or consequently be cre-
ated although not having the number of inhabitants which consti-


tutes the basis of the ratio."21 But even should a population equal
to the federal ratio be required, it was argued that the increase of
population since 1830, together with the increase anticipated by rea-
son of the projected removal of the Seminole Indians, would give the
territory the requisite population before measures to organize a state
government could be carried into effect.

The committee was equally optimistic on the question of expense,
in spite of the territory's unfortunate fiscal history. Acts passed
by the first Legislative Council to raise a revenue and to authorize
the governor to borrow $5,000 to meet the incidental expenses of the
territory until taxes could be collected22 had been promptly nullified
by Congress. It had been provided, moreover, that no territorial
tax bill should become a law without the specific assent of Congress,
except when such bills should authorize county and municipal taxes
for local purposes.23 Until 1828, when this prohibition was re-
scinded,24 the only tax bill sanctioned by Congress was that to levy a
poll tax.25 Yet the territory, in 1827, assumed all claims against the
counties for criminal prosecutions and obligated itself to meet such
expenses in future from the territorial treasury.26 When finally al-
lowed to impose a territorial tax, the council passed a revenue act
levying taxes on land, slaves, licenses, and gross receipts of merchan-
dise sold.27 It also attempted a crude funding operation by author-
izing the treasurer to issue, in payment of claims against the terri-
tory, interest-bearing notes receivable for taxes.28

The people, however, were reluctant to pay taxes. Each year
from one-third to one-half of the counties failed to make tax returns,
while in many counties which made returns the taxes either were
not collected or were not paid into the treasury.29 As a result, be-
tween 1829 and 1831 more treasury notes were issued annually than
were redeemed.30 Moreover, the accounts of the treasurer were so
poorly kept that it was impossible to ascertain the exact financial
status of the territory. To bring some order out of the chaos, a
Board of Treasury Commissioners was appointed in 1832 to investi-
gate, and place on an intelligible accounting basis, the territory's
financial affairs.31 At the same time, the issuance of treasury notes,
or scrip, was discontinued. Although the board, after auditing
claims against the territory and debts due it from former officers,
set up account books that showed the territory to be solvent, many of
the debts due were uncollectable and the territory, in reality, was in
debt. During the 1833 fiscal year the treasury received from all


sources less than $4,500, and at the end of the year its cash balance
was $86.918/4, with several thousand dollars of warrants outstanding.
Despite all this, the Committee on the State of the Territory be-
lieved that a "moderate system of taxation," properly enforced,
would raise the $30,000 it estimated to be sufficient to support a
state government.32 The council thought otherwise. It defeated
the bill to submit the question of state government to the people by a
vote of 10 to 5,33 while it postponed "until the fourth of July next" a
bill designed to insure a more efficient collection of taxes.34 This
action met with the approbation of the editor of the Pensacola
Gazette, to whom "the greatest objection to the project of going into
the Union" was "our poverty." Florida's territorial form of gov-
ernment, he said, might "be a homely garb, (a 'servile' one it certain-
ly is not) but it serves very well to keep us warm."35
The question of statehood was not raised in the 1835 council. In
1836, without a formal report on the subject and without a roll call,
the council passed a resolution providing that the question of "State"
or "No State" should be submitted to the people at the next election.36
There can be little doubt that this action was the result of increasing
abolitionist agitation for Congress to abolish slavery in the District of
Columbia. During the summer of 1835, meetings had been held in
Leon and Jackson Counties "to take into consideration the efforts
that are now making by the Fanatics of the North, for the immediate
abolition of slavery." Resolutions had been passed requesting
the next Legislative Council to take such measures as would "de-
feat the machinations of the Fanatics.""7 The 1836 council adopted
a report and resolutions which recognized that the power of Congress
to regulate slavery in the territories was corollary to a constitutional
right to abolish it in the District of Columbia. But the council was
"unwilling to acknowledge that the fundamental principles of rights
and securities guaranteed under the constitution . were forfeited
by a migration to a country, the domain of which is in the govern-
ment of the confederation" of states.38 Although there is no direct
evidence in the council Journal of a connection between the resolu-
tions on abolitionism and statehood, clearly a change from a terri-
torial to a state government would have obviated all danger of con-
gressional legislation on the subject of slavery in Florida. Since
Governor John H. Eaton failed either to sign or to veto the statehood
resolution, no election was held under it.
At the next council it was the governor who proposed that meas-


ures be adopted preparatory to applying for admission to the Union.
In his message of January 3, 1837, Governor Richard K. Call based
his recommendation on the desirability of a government more re-
sponsive to the needs and wishes of the people. In particular, he
pointed out that, for want of a quorum, there had been no session of
the Court of Appeals for three years. Since the judges of the su-
perior courts, who constituted the Court of Appeals, were federal
appointees they were beyond the control of the council. The only
remedy lay, he said, in assuming "a State Government, under which
all public officers may be held mediately, or immediately, responsi-
ble to the people." The matter of expense he regarded "as a trifling
consideration when compared with the sacrifice of Independence, and
the rights and privileges incident to a state government."39 The
council responded by passing an act providing for a referendum on
statehood at the election for delegate to Congress in May and for tak-
ing a census.40 The bill was introduced by the Committee on the
State of the Territory without an accompanying report and was
passed by a vote of 23 to 3, the dissentients being from Washington
County in the West and from Nassau and St. Johns Counties in the

The question of statehood does not seem to have been much agi-
tated in the campaign preceding the election for delegate, although
the Pensacola Gazette and the Florida Herald both considered it pre-
mature, and on much the same grounds. As did all opponents of the
measure, they took the position that Florida could not constitution-
ally be admitted until her population should equal the existing ratio
of representation. The objection of insufficient population, more-
over, was, in their view, inextricably linked with that of expense. A
man might vote for a state government, said the Gazette, if he knew
the population was 60,000, whereas he would vote against it if the
population were only 40,000. The advantages to be gained-increased
political power and control of the school lands-would be more than
offset by a "very onerous" tax burden.42 The Herald, spokesman for
East Florida, "now ... but a wild waste and depopulated region" as
a result of the Indian War begun late in 1835, thought that state taxes
would prevent new settlements. "In becoming a state," it said, "we
have all to lose and nothing to gain."43

That these papers reflected the views of their readers is shown by
the election returns. The returns also gave proof of a sectionalism,
long apparent in Florida politics, which the question of statehood


was to bring to a feverish pitch during the next eight years. Sec-
tionalism had been latent in the old Spanish divisions of East and
West Florida. At the change of flags in 1821, Florida's population
of less than 5,000 whites was concentrated around Pensacola and St.
Augustine,44 more than 400 miles apart and connected overland only
by "a circuitous route of more than seven hundred miles through
parts of Georgia and Alabama."45 Nature aggravated the situation.
The principal rivers of Florida flow north and south and the
peninsula, extending 400 miles to the south, was a hazardous obstacle
to communication by sea, the voyage around it being "as difficult as
a trip to Liverpool or Bordeaux."46 These physical obstacles to the
administration of East and West Florida as one territory could, in
the opinion of the first Legislative Council, be removed by the con-
struction of a direct road from Pensacola to St. Augustine and the
location of a permanent seat of government on or near the road and
approximately equidistant from the old towns.47 These measures
were initiated in 1824, when the capital was located at Tallahassee,
through which the new road was to run. In the same year, Congress
added the Middle Judicial District, between the Apalachicola and Su-
wannee Rivers, to those districts previously established for East and
West Florida. The judicial districts proved to be, in general, con-
terminous with distinct economic sections and their designations,
geographically apt, carried generally recognized sectional implica-
" It was soon apparent that Middle Florida was to be the center of
the territory in every sense-economic, social and political, as well as
geographical. The greater part of the peninsula had been set aside
as an Indian reserve in 1823, and that part of East Florida available
to settlers was plastered with litigated Spanish land claims.
West Florida, except for a part of Jackson County, consisted of poor
agricultural soils fitted for little more than subsistence farming.
Middle Florida, on the other hand, had lands suited to the cultiva-
tion of cotton and, except for the Forbes Purchase whose approxi-
mately 1,500,000 acres were largely unfit for planting, was free from
Spanish claims. The survey of public lands was begun at Tallahas-
see in 1825. Middle Florida lands quickly attracted settlers from
the older Southern states, who brought with them their capital in the
form of slaves. By 1838, the contiguous counties of Jackson, Gads-
den, Leon and Jefferson formed a cotton-planting blackbelt in which
was concentrated the greater part of the territory's wealth and cul-
ture and half of its population.


The East and West, while retaining some of their mutual distrust,
promptly transferred most of their jealousy to Middle Florida. This
they evidenced politically whenever they found, or could make, an op-
portunity. In the biennial elections for delegate to Congress, the
votes of East and West were usually combined to defeat the Middle
Florida favorite. Although the location of the capital in Middle
Florida had been at the instance of a council composed largely of
members from St. Augustine and Pensacola, the site had hardly been
selected before agitation for its removal was begun. For years
members from the East, supported by now one Westerner and then
another, proposed that a new site be chosen.49 The question of equi-
table apportionment of representation in the council found the East
and West successfully aligned against the Middle. From 1826, when
the council was made elective, it had been granted the right to re-
apportion representation, but it always refused to do so. Reappor-
tionment was achieved from time to time only by congressional in-
tervention. Middle Florida never received the representation to
which its federal numbers, and for a while even its white population,
entitled it, while East Florida was always over-represented on either

East Florida's longstanding particularism was intensely aggra-
vated by the Indian War. While both Middle and West Florida ex-
perienced Indian alarms and atrocities, they were relatively slight in
comparison with events in the East. The economic life of East Flor-
ida was entirely disrupted by the war. Plantations were destroyed,
settlers were driven from their holdings, and immigration ceased.
It was small wonder, therefore, that "the bleeding, suffering East,"
when it went to the polls in May, 1837, registered an emphatic "No"
against the statehood project. Almost equally emphatic were the
agriculturally poor West Florida counties of Washington, Walton
and Escambia. The substantial territory-wide majority in favor of
a state was due to the enthusiasm of Middle Florida and the commer-
cially prosperous West Florida towns of Apalachicola and St.
Joseph.50 The majority of 63.4 percent probably indicated a more
favorable attitude than really existed, for there was considerable
apathy in the election, particularly in the East. Nearly 16 percent
of the electors who went to the polls did not vote on statehood, for
a total of 4,145 votes was cast for delegate as against 3,488 on state-
hood. By sections, 24.7 percent in the East did not vote on the ques-
tion, 16.4 percent in the West, and 7.6 percent in the Middle. On the


other hand, of those who voted on statehood, 69.3 percent in West
Florida and 81.2 percent in Middle Florida favored it, while 67.4 per-
cent in East Florida opposed it.

Although the act under which the election was held had provided
also for the taking of a census, it allowed such a small compensation
to the sheriffs, on whom the duty devolved, that, in general, they
ignored it. Consequently, Governor Call recommended to the 1838
council that further steps be suspended until a census should have
been taken. There was no reason to believe, he said, that Florida
could be admitted without encountering great opposition arising
"from a struggle for power between the Northern and Southern
States." If she did not have a population equal to the federal ratio,
he doubted that she could make a successful demand for admission.
Under such circumstances it would be unwise to incur the expenses
of a convention. He suggested, therefore, that laws be passed pro-
viding for a census and authorizing the governor to call a convention
by proclamation should the returns show the territory to have the
requisite population.51

The select committee to whom this portion of Call's message was
referred had no difficulty "in arriving at conclusions according with
the popular will" rather than with the views of the governor. Flor-
ida's right to become a state, it said, did not depend on population.
It was granted by the treaty of cession and rested alone on her abil-
ity to support a state government. To doubt that she could do so was
"to doubt the patriotism, the Energy and the spirit of her people."
Aside from the right to choose her own officers and to control the
school lands, admission would give Florida a claim to a congressional
grant of public lands and to the right to share in the distribution of
surplus revenue. And should the South "fail in preserving the na-
tional Compact, from pollution and disruption," Florida, as a state,
could "retire from the old to the new confederacy" with the same
rights as her sister states. The committee, therefore, reported a bill
to call a convention, as it had previously reported a bill to take a
census, though in the latter case without yielding the principle that
the right to admission was clear and distinct from the question of

Optimism concerning Florida's ability to support a state govern-
ment rested on a slightly firmer basis than in earlier years. The ter-
ritory was at last out of debt. The auditor of public accounts, in


his reports for 1836 and 1837, had asserted that, with proper man-
agement and economy, there was no danger that Florida would be
unable to meet the necessary expenses of a state government.53 The
fact remained, however, that many counties still failed to pay taxes,
not one Eastern county having made a return since 1835. Treas-
ury receipts from all sources in 1837 were less than $15,000. Oppon-
ents of statehood, therefore, called for a report on probable expenses
and the sources from which revenue would be derived. The Com-
mittee on Finance returned a report that was just as optimistic as
that of the select committee. To offset an estimated annual expense
of $60,000, it listed possible revenues of $123,000, including such
items as $20,000 from banks and railroads and $10,000 from "Faro
Banks and other Gaming tables."64 Although it was obvious to all
that statehood would necessitate heavier taxes, a revenue bill intro-
duced after the convention bill was passed, was laid on the table on
the last day of the session.

The census bill, which provided for a census to be taken before the
first Monday in May, was passed on January 22. Members from
the East generally opposed the call of a convention, and others dis-
agreed as to time and place. A fight on apportionment of represen-
tation seems to have been avoided by drafting the bill in the first
place to give' both East and West Florida a greater proportionate
representation in the convention than Middle Florida. The bill, as
introduced, also provided for delegates to be elected on the first
Monday in March and for the convention to meet at Tallahassee on
the third Monday in April.55 If a constitution were to be framed in
time for submission to the session of Congress then sitting, an early
date was necessary. Objections could be raised, however, on the
grounds of the expense of a special election and lack of time to set
election machinery in operation and to bring out candidates. For
these or other reasons, the bill was amended to provide that delegates
be elected in October at the election for council members and that
the convention meet on the first Monday in December.

As to the place of meeting, the Florida Watchman reported during
the debate, "Some have moved for it to meet at Pensacola, some at
St. Joseph, some at Tallahassee, some at Mineral Springs; and one ...
[even] to meet at the battle ground of the 31st December on the banks
of the Withlacoochee."56 Leon County members fought hard to have
Tallahassee chosen, but, according to William Wyatt, a member from
Leon, they made concessions out of patriotism, as they "were deter-


mined to go for the Convention bill, even if the Convention set in a
Cypress Swamp."57 St. Joseph won the prize, presumably as the
result of a coalition of East and West against Middle Florida.58 The
bill was finally passed on January 31 by a vote of 18 to 9. Voting in
the negative were the members from Escambia County in West Flor-
ida, Hamilton County in Middle Florida, and Nassau, St. Johns, Mos-
quito and Monroe in East Florida, while the two members from Duval
split on the question.59
While the convention bill was under consideration, the question
of division of the territory was brought before the council in the
form of resolutions of the Alabama legislature proposing the annexa-
tion of West Florida to that state.60 In transmitting the resolutions,
Governor Call stated that such a measure would have "most fatal
consequences" for Florida and would postpone a state government
for years.61 The council concurred in this opinion, although the
Pensacola Gazette thought that sentiment in West Florida was "al-
most universal" in favor of the measure.62
East Florida was not slow to turn this proposal to its own ends.
Commenting on the Alabama resolutions, the Florida Herald, of Jan-
uary 6, 1838, suggested: "Perhaps it would suit all parties better
to divide the Territory at the Suwannee and let that part west of
that river 'set up for herself,' if she will. We should like to hear this
subject discussed." The suggestion fell on fertile ground. On Feb-
ruary 5, a public meeting in St. Augustine adopted resolutions op-
posing the incorporation of East Florida into a state with Middle
and West Florida and providing for a memorial to Congress to be
drafted and circulated in East Florida. The memorial represented
that the connection with the Middle and West had been "most pecu-
liarly harassing and vexatious" to the East, which had no business
connection with them and was "so disconnected from the Legisla-
ture, and remote from its place of session as to be nearly excluded
from all its benefits." The burdens a state government would cast
upon East Florida were "truly alarming." The logic of geography
demanded a separation. It was requested, therefore, that Congress
erect that part of Florida east of the Suwannee River into a separate
The memorial took Charles Downing, Florida's delegate in Con-
gress and an Eastern man, completely by surprise. Although he
presented it to Congress, he scoffed at the idea of division. "A Ter-
ritory with 5000 inhabitants!" he wrote a friend. "No one ever


heard of such a thing. Congress would laugh at the proposition."
And even if congressional assent could be obtained, it would simply
make East Florida the target of abolition petitions for an indefinite
period. The whole project was "a Northern light" (i. e., an aboli-
tion scheme), which he would oppose as long as he lived, "in any and
every place, in any and every way."64

Downing's attitude did not quiet the divisionists. The Herald saw
in division the means by which East Florida could "be freed from
the shackles of a petty despotism."65 The Middle and West cared
nothing for the true interests of the East, it asserted, but only for
her population and the taxes they might garner. It was immaterial
to them that by pushing statehood they were "inflicting worse than
Egyptian bondage upon their housless, homeless, impoverished fel-
low citizens."66 This kind of talk was too much for the Pensacola
Gazette. Escambia County voted against statehood, it said, but
would abide by the will of the majority. The policy of the territorial
government had been marked by "favors and forbearance towards
the East," particularly in the matter of taxes, which East Florida
counties had pretty generally failed to pay. But "they are a little
too clever for us at a bargain, and thus far, all our legislation has
grown out of bargaining. They have made us roll their logs, and
pile them up, and burn them, and they hav'nt touched a log of ours.""67

Having antagonized his East Florida constituents by opposing di-
vision, Downing procured the introduction in Congress of a bill that
gave small comfort to advocates of statehood. Indeed, it seems on its
face to have been designed to stymie that measure. The Dill author-
ized the governor to call a convention by proclamation, but only after
a census should show that Florida had a population of 47,700 in fed-
eral numbers, which was the existing ratio of representation. It pro-
vided, moreover, that the first action of the convention should be to
determine "whether it is or is not expedient to form a constitution
and State Government," and that two-thirds of the members elected
should constitute a quorum.68 This last provision alone, said the
Floridian, was sufficient to defeat the object of the bill, since it
placed in the hands of East Florida the power to prevent the forma-
tion of a constitution.69 And certainly the population requirement
would have prevented even the calling of a convention. Downing
later declared that, though Middle Floridians had told him the terri-
tory had a population of at least 60,000, he had tried to have the re-
quirement stricken from the bill before it was reported. His sole


object in having the bill introduced, he said, was to save the territory
the expenses of a census and convention by having the Federal Gov-
ernment assume them.70 Since this bill did not make such provision,
he procured its withdrawal and had a second introduced which pro-
vided that the census be taken at federal expense.71 As it was intro-
duced only two days before Congress adjourned, its passage was

The pre-election campaign that started even before Downing's first
bill was introduced proved to be, at least in Middle and East Florida,
"the most exciting which has ever taken place."72 Not only were
convention delegates and the usual council members to be elected,
but members of Florida's first Senate were to be chosen, for Con-
gress had at last granted the territory a bicameral legislature. In-
stead of turning upon a discussion of general constitutional princi-
ples, the campaign developed into a free-for-all controversy over reg-
ulation of the territory's banking institutions. The popular con-
cern over banks was an aftermath of the Panic of 1837. It was
heightened by the fact that the territory had guaranteed bonds of the
Union Bank of Florida and the Bank of Pensacola in the amounts of
$3,000,000 and $500,000, respectively, and was obligated by terri-
torial law similarly to endorse bonds of the Southern Life Insurance
and Trust Company upon application of that corporation.

The need of an adequate circulating medium and credit facilities
to meet the demands of a growing country had early been felt, espe-
cially in Middle Florida. All efforts to incorporate banks met with
executive vetoes, however, until 1828, when the Bank of Florida at
Tallahassee was chartered over the objections of Governor DuVal.
The next four years saw the incorporation, always over the gover-
nor's veto, of five commercial banks with authorized capital ranging
from $200,000 to $1,000,000. In reality, lack of capital forced
the banks to operate on a very limited scale. The Central Bank of
Florida at Tallahassee, for instance, although authorized to raise a
capital of $1,000,000, operated its first year with paid-in stock of
only $60,000 and with bank notes in circulation of less than half that
amount.73 As James D. Westcott, Jr., pointed out in 1832, "The
erection of these institutions cannot create capital where there is
none to spare, and this is the misfortune of Florida."74 But the
planter group in the territory was bent on securing banking facilities.
After an effort to secure for Florida a branch of the Bank of the


United States came to naught,75 it hit upon the scheme of using the
credit of the territory to raise capital.76
The charter of the Union Bank, incorporated in 1833, authorized
an initial capital of $1,000,000, which might later be increased to
$3,000,000, to be raised by the sale of bonds of the territory drawn
in favor of the bank. To secure the principal and interest of the
bonds, an equal amount of capital stock was offered for subscription
by land-owning citizens of Florida. The subscribers, in turn, could
secure their stock by mortgages on real property and slaves, and
were entitled to loans from the bank up to two-thirds of the value of
their stock. This bank won the approval of Governor DuVal as being
"truly the Planter's Bank" and an institution that would "induce the
investment of foreign capital in it."77 As first passed, the bill re-
quired that the assent of Congress be given before the charter should
become operative, but at DuVal's request this stipulation was dropped.
Although the charter provided for books of subscription to be opened
in all parts of the territory, it was obvious that the benefits would
accrue chiefly to the planting counties of Middle Florida. It is not
surprising, therefore, that the final vote of 10 to 8 showed all but
one of the East Florida members opposed to its passage.78

In approving the Union Bank charter, DuVal had receded from a
position on which he had stood firmly for a number of years. Hold-
ing the territorial government to be "but an imperfect, qualified, and
dependent corporation, without any certain term of existence," he
had until then doubted that it could "properly create other corpora-
tions and make them of more indissoluble character than itself."79
James D. Westcott continued to hold such views and, as secretary
and acting governor, obstructed the organization of the bank.80 The
question was also raised as to the possibility that Congress might
disapprove the act and void contracts made under it after the bonds
had been sold, as well as to the power of Florida, in becoming a state,
to release herself from obligations entered into as a territory. Legal
opinion on these points was sought in 1834 from Chancellor James
Kent, Horace Binney, Peter A. Jay, and Daniel Webster. All agreed
that the bank charter was legal and that obligations of the territory
would be binding on the state. But Webster, asserting the absolute
power of Congress to repeal any territorial law, no matter what
rights might have accrued under it, declared that Congress could re-
lieve the territory of its contractual obligations at any time by re-
pealing the charter. Binney and Jay agreed that Congress could re-


peal the charter whenever it saw fit, but argued that it could not in-
validate contracts made prior to its repeal, while Kent flatly de-
clared that, Congress, having acquiesced in the charter by not repeal-
ing it at the last session, was stopped from further action.81
When the organization of the Union Bank was finally effected it
became very clear that it was a Middle Florida institution. Sub-
scription books were not even opened in East Florida, and no stock
allotments were made to Pensacola subscribers. Demands were
therefore made in 1835 for some equivalent for East and West
Florida. West Florida was satisfied by a territorial guaranty of
$500,000 of bonds to be issued by the Bank of Pensacola and used for
the construction of a railroad from Pensacola to Columbus, Georgia.
The charter of the Southern Life Insurance and Trust Company, to
be located at St. Augustine, authorized a capital stock of $2,000,000,
which might be increased to $4,000,000, to be paid in instalments
over a period of three years. Capital secured by stock subscrip-
tions was to be lent on first mortgages of real and personal property
in Florida. To increase this working capital, certificates, or bonds,
guaranteed by the territory, might be issued to the amount of out-
standing loans. The Southern Life and Trust charter met with
strong opposition from the planting interest, the Jackson County
members and seven of the 10 Middle Florida members voting against
it.82 After its passage, the Bank of Pensacola measure was adopted
without a roll call.
The Florida banks were caught in the deflationary Panic of 1837
and suspended specie payments in May and June of that year. In
spite of this, the Union Bank, then operating on a capital stock of
$1,000,000, opened subscription books in October to increase its cap-
ital to the full $3,000,000 authorized by its charter. The prospect
of guaranteeing $2,000,000 more of bonds for a bank that could not
redeem in specie the quarter million of notes it had in circulation was
alarming to some members of the 1838 council. A "little group of
disorganizers," as they were called by one member, tried hard to pass
a law forbidding the governor to issue more bonds.83 They were un-
successful, and after the council had adjourned Governor Call, as
required by law, delivered the additional $2,000,000 of bonds for the
Union Bank. Aside from the propriety of extending the capital of
the bank at this time, preference given to old stockholders in the al-
location of new stock caused criticism of the bank.
The failure of the council to take action made the bank question


the leading issue in the convention campaign. "Are you in favor of
a connexion between Bank and State?" was the kind of question put
to candidates in Middle Florida meetings.84 According to the
Floridian, all candidates "urged the propriety of constitutional regu-
lations of the powers of the Legislature in regard to incorporations,"
and some "urged the necessity of investigation and reform."85 Con-
sequently, in Middle Florida there were no well-defined bank and anti-
bank tickets. As events in the convention proved, both bank and
anti-bank men were elected by the same constituents.

The campaign was more heated in East Florida, where excitement
over the banks overrode the general distaste for holding a conven-
tion. Returns of the census, as they were made public, showed that
the territory could not meet the federal ratio of representation.86
Many Eastern divisionists therefore questioned the constitutionality
of a convention and urged the impolicy of Eastern participation in
it.87 This kind of talk was silenced partly by the feeling that, since
a convention obviously would be held, the East should be represented
in order to protect its "rights," and partly by the controversy that
arose over the Southern Life Insurance and Trust Company.

Although no territorial bonds had yet been issued for that bank,
it was unpopular for other reasons. The company had been organ-
ized with Northern capital and many of its officers had but lately
come to Florida from the North. The only difference between it and
"the grand Humbug the Union Bank of Florida," said one critic, was
"that one is for the benefit of a distant portion of the Territory, and
the other a distant portion of the Union.""8 More particularly, the
bank's trust functions were distrusted and it was charged with spec-
ulating in land and depreciated currency. St. Augustine pranksters
neatly pointed the latter charge by moving the barber's pole to the
door of the bank, as the symbol of a "shaving shop" where "they'll
shave you so close, that you'll not need being shaved again by them
for a long time."89 The bank made the mistake of taking too high-
handed a course toward its critics. When the Herald published,
without comment, a report of a public auction of Southern Life and
Trust notes at which the bills brought far less than their face value,
the bank filed a libel suit against the editor. The only result was to
insure the whole-hearted opposition of the paper, for the suit had to
be dropped.90 Feeling ran so high that toward the end of the cam-
paign candidates divided into definite factions-the bank, or Me-
chanics' and People's Ticket, and the anti-bank, or Democratic Re-


publican Ticket.91 In spite of lavish spending, "the exciting induce-
ments of the 'invisible spirit of rum,' and "all the influences that
wealth could command," if we may believe the Herald, the "Bank-
Whigs" took a beating in the East.92
Only in West Florida was the campaign quiet. In Franklin and
Calhoun Counties delegates were elected without opposition and in
most of the other counties apparently there were not even two aspi-
rants for each seat. While the bank question must have been dis-
cussed, insufficient heat was engendered to attract press comment.


The men chosen to write Florida's first constitution included na-
tives of 13 of the 26 states then comprising the Union and of four
foreign countries. Only three of the members were native Florid-
ians.' Their occupations were varied, though not so diverse as their
birthplaces. Lawyers and planters predominated, but there were
at least two ministers of the gospel, two newspaper editors, three
doctors, an innkeeper, a sea captain and fisherman, and a merchant
in the group.2 More than a third of the delegates had had legisla-
tive experience, 18 as members of the Legislative Council and two,
William P. DuVal and Robert Raymond Reid, as members of Con-
gress. Among the former were four past presidents of the coun-
When the convention convened at noon on December 3, 1838, in the
bustling little boom town of St. Joseph, 46 of the 56 delegates elected
were present.4 A temporary organization was effected by the elec-
tion of Jackson Morton, of Escambia, as chairman and of Richard
Fitzpatrick, of Dade, as secretary pro tempore. After canvassing
the election returns for delegates, the convention adjourned until the
next day in order to allow the delegates from the several Judicial dis-
tricts to select proxies for the absent members. The choice of prox-
ies, authorized by the act calling the convention, revealed a rift in the
Southern and Middle delegations which was especially significant in
the case of the latter. Neither William Marvin, of Monroe, nor
Fitzpatrick would agree to let the other cast the vote of Joseph B.
Browne, of Monroe. The delegation from the Middle District, after
reporting that they were unable to agree on a proxy, compromised by
naming Thomas Brown, of Leon, to act as proxy for his colleague,
William Wyatt, and making John N. Partridge, of Jefferson, proxy
for the two absent members from Madison.5 As events speedily
proved, a different choice of proxies could have altered the choice of
president of the convention.
The Middle District ostensibly stood aside to let the presidency go
to one of the other sections. Apparently the majority of the delega-
tion hoped to place in the chair a man from their section by joining
with the West to elect William P. DuVal, who, though a resident of
Leon County, had been sent to the convention by Calhoun County.


DuVal was nominated by Samuel Parkhill, of Leon, who alluded to
his prior services to the territory as judge of the Superior Court for
East Florida and as governor for 12 years. In seconding the nomi-
nation, Thomas Brown expressed the hope that there would be no
opposition. This, of course, was too much to have been expected.
Leigh Read, of Leon, nominated Robert Raymond Reid, of St. Johns,
then judge of the Superior Court for East Florida. Referring to
the objections of the East to the immediate formation of a state, Read
"urged that the election of Judge Reid was due to the East, and would
be of salutary effect there." Furthermore, he said, Reid's political
sentiments were more acceptable to him than were DuVal's. James
D. Westcott, Jr., of Leon, likewise pressed the election of Reid as the
choice of the East, which, he said, "had claims upon the liberality of
the other sections."6 When the vote was taken, Reid received 27
votes, DuVal 26. Fitzpatrick was the sole East Florida man to vote
for DuVal; C. E. Bartlett, of Franklin, the only delegate from West
Florida to vote for Reid. The members from Middle Florida who
voted for Reid were Westcott, Read, and Leslie A. Thompson, of
Leon; Abram Bellamy and Partridge, of Jefferson, the latter of
whom cast the two Madison County votes for him; and Joseph B.
Watts and William B. Hooker, of Hamilton.7

Although every county in the territory had elected delegates, it
was by no means certain that the East and the extreme West
would consent to the formation of a constitution. The editor of the
Floridian had said in the issue of December 1 that immediately upon
organization of the convention an effort would be made to dissolve
it "by a motion that it is inexpedient at this time to organize a State
Government." Benjamin D. Wright, editor of the Pensacola Gazette
and a delegate from Escambia, had hinted at the possibility even be-
fore the election.8 Two years later he declared that "our delegates
went to St. Joseph prepared to act with the eastern delegation in op-
position to the making of a constitution at that time," only to find
"that the entire voice of the 'bleeding, suffering east' was for a con-
stitution and state government."9 Too few data are available to ac-
count entirely for this unexpected attitude on the part of the Eastern
delegation. It seems probable, however, that it was largely the re-
sult of a deal with the anti-bank men from Middle Florida, the first
evidence of which was seen in the election of Reid.

Uncertainty as to the course of the Eastern delegation persisted
for several days. Two proposals obviously intended to test their


good faith were made. While the report of the rules committee was
under consideration on December 5, Thomas Baltzell, of Jackson,
moved to prescribe by rule an oath for the members faithfully to dis-
charge their duties. After rejecting the motion as smacking of co-
ercion and sectarianism, the convention adopted a resolution author-
izing the president to administer an oath to such members as might
think proper to take it. Whereupon all the members present were
sworn.10 On the same day, Fitzpatrick introduced a preamble and
resolutions defining the duties the members had sworn to perform
by asserting Florida's right to admission and declaring it to be "ex-
pedient and necessary" for the delegates to "proceed to the formation
of a constitution and State Government.""1

In the debate that ensued on December 7, it was openly admitted
that the resolutions were a test. Some opposed them as unwise and
insulting to the East, whose delegates had already taken the oath.
DuVal, on the other hand, contended that all that was aimed at was
to know if there was a majority in favor of a state government. If
there was not, he said, there was no use in consuming time and the
people's money in further deliberations. It was soon evident that
majority sentiment was opposed to any test, but the discussion got
out of hand and developed into a heated argument as to the proper
test to be proposed should a test be desired. Three viewpoints were
revealed in regard to the formation of a state government as distinct
from the writing of a constitution. Spokesmen for the East thought
that no declaration of policy should be made until after a constitu-
tion had been adopted. Moderate advocates of statehood favored
binding the convention then to apply to Congress for admission when
a constitution should have been formed. And a few enthusiasts,
charged by Marvin with being "in favor of anarchy, of revolution,
and rebellion," admitted that they wanted the convention to declare
it to be "the determination of the people of Florida to establish a
State Government forthwith, and put it into execution, even if de-
nied admission into the confederacy by Congress at the present ses-
sion."12 Since an attempt to force a declaration of policy at this
time might easily have broken up the convention, the resolutions were

As this action indicated, the majority of the convention was de-
termined to postpone consideration of controversial questions until
the essential parts of a constitution could be formulated. Although
the bank question undoubtedly was "the all engrossing topic of con-


versation," as reported by the correspondent of the Floridian on De-
cember 6,13 efforts by extremists in both the bank and anti-bank fac-
tions to force an early consideration of the question failed. The re-
port of the Committee on Banking and Other Incorporations and the
introduction of numerous resolutions on the subject gave ample
warning, if, indeed, any warning were necessary, that the debate,
when it came, would be long and arduous. All attempts to call them
up, however, were overridden until December 28. In the meantime,
the framework of a constitution was mapped out and considered arti-
cle by article, first in committee of the whole and, on the third read-
ing, in formal session.

Resolutions designed to establish a method of procedure had been
introduced on December 4 by both Fitzpatrick and Westcott. The
former proposed that five six-member committees be appointed to
draft articles on the Bill or Declaration of Rights, the legislative de-
partment, executive department, judicial department, and general
provisions of the government. This scheme, which followed closely
the constitution of Alabama, would have debarred almost half of the
members from participation in committee work. Westcott's sug-
gestion, which was adopted, was the appointment of a committee of
seven to determine the subjects to be considered. Westcott was made
chairman of the committee, which advised the appointment of 17
committees to draft as many separate articles, as well as a committee
to draft such regulations and ordinances as might be necessary for
the establishment of a state government. This plan made it possible
for all members to receive committee appointments.14

Reid seems to have made the appointments with proper considera-
tion for fitness. DuVal, for example, was made chairman of the
Committee on the Executive Department. The Committee on the
Legislative Department, with Thomas Brown as chairman, included
such legislative veterans as Abram Bellamy, four times president of
the Legislative Council, Jose Simeon Sanchez, and William Wyatt,
and the Committee on the Judicial Department, headed by R. C. Allen,
who was soon to be named a superior court judge, included some of
the ablest lawyers in the territory. Leslie A. Thompson, auditor of
public accounts of the territory, was chairman of the Committee on
Revenue and Taxation and Leigh Read, a general in the Florida mili-
tia, drew the chairmanship of the Committee on the Militia. West-
cott, an anti-bank man, was given the chairmanship of the Commit-
tee on Banking and Other Incorporations, but the committee, as final-


ly constituted, was evenly divided between the bank and anti-bank

After the appointment of committees on Friday, December 7, the
convention adjourned over the week end. When it reconvened on
Monday, several committees were ready to report by the simple de-
vice of presenting the appropriate article from the Alabama consti-
tution with little or no change. Even the reports on controversial
articles, however, were made within the week. As many of the re-
ports dealt with subjects assigned to some other committee, the
chairmen of the several standing committees were designated as a
"condensing and consolidating" committee to effect an orderly ar-
rangement. The convention accepted the proposal of this committee
that the several articles be taken up in the order in which it was pro-
posed to incorporate them in the constitutional6 During the next
two weeks the Declaration of Rights and the articles on the three de-
partments of government were passed and those on the right of suf-
frage and qualifications of officers, the militia, and taxation and
revenue were advanced to a third reading and ordered to be en-

The very first article to be considered caused a clash between bank
and anti-bank men. George T. Ward, of Leon, moved to include in
the Declaration of Rights a section safeguarding the obligation of
contracts. He frankly admitted that his purpose was twofold: to
incorporate an important principle in the constitution and to bring
to an immediate issue on the floor of the house the matter that was
the all-absorbing topic outside. Now was the time, he said, "to bell
the cat." Westcott accepted the challenge by proposing to add a
proviso declaring "the supremacy of the law over all contracts and all
corporations." After cooler heads on both sides had pointed out that
banking was not before the house and that Ward's motion should be
considered on its merits, without reference to banks, it was passed
and Westcott's proviso was rejected.17

The form of government adopted in the other articles followed
rather closely the existing territorial system. The executive depart-
ment consisted of a governor, secretary of state, treasurer, and comp-
troller of public accounts, all of whom had territorial counterparts.
The only new office was that of attorney general, which was estab-
lished as part of the judicial department. Although the first bi-
cameral Legislative Council was yet to meet, the unicameral system


had long been unpopular and the convention unhesitatingly pro-
-vided for a bicameral legislature. It clung to annual sessions, in
spite of efforts to change to biennial meetings, and placed no limita-
tion on their length, probably because congressional restrictions had
proved irksome.
--The judicial power of the state was vested in a supreme court,
courts of chancery, circuit courts, and justices of the peace. There
were to be at least four judicial circuits with a judge and solicitor
for each, the circuit courts being equivalents of the territorial su-
perior courts. The Supreme Court was to consist, for five years at
least, of the judges of the several circuits in the same manner in
which the Court of Appeals was formed by judges of the superior
courts. Until separate chancery courts should be established by law
(and they never were), original equity jurisdiction was vested in the
circuit courts. The territorial county court, intermediate in juris-
diction between justices of the peace and the superior courts, was
dropped. Since this court was the administrative body for the coun-
ty and its judge exercised probate jurisdiction, it was necessary to
provide new agencies to perform these functions. The General As-
sembly was, therefore, directed to provide by law for the appoint-
ment in each county of a probate judge and was authorized to estab-
lish in each county a board of commissioners for the transaction of
county business.

In its provisions for the selection of officers, the convention evi-
denced a distrust both of the people and of the executive. The gov-
ernor was the only state officer to be popularly elected, and in his
choice a plurality could prevail. The committee's proposal to throw
the election into the General Assembly in case no candidate received
a majority was objected to as being liable to corrupt that body, while
the alternative of a second election was, in the opinion of some, to be
avoided because frequent elections "tended to agitation, party spirit,
and excitement.""1 Less than one-third of the members voted to pro-
vide for calling a second election in order that the will of the majority
might govern.19 The other executive officers, the judges, solicitors,
and clerk of the Supreme Court were to be chosen by joint vote of the
two houses. This was a departure from territorial practice in the
case of the executive officers, for the treasurer and auditor of public
accounts were appointed by the governor subject to confirmation by
the council. A motion for the popular election of judges was de-


feated by a vote of 48 to 6.20 Only in the selection of local officers
was there a disposition to adopt the more democratic procedure. The
clerks of the territorial county courts were elected; those of the su-
-perior courts were appointed by the judges. Both methods were
proposed for selecting clerks of the circuit court, the former being
adopted. The convention also made possible the election of justices
of the peace, appointed by the governor of the territory, by leaving
it to the General Assembly to decide the method of their selection.

Differences of opinion on most of these matters apparently were
personal rather than sectional. A tiff between DuVal and Westcott
on the eligibility requirements for governor, however, casts a signifi-
cant light on the part played by the latter in the convention. Al-
though he did not agree with the member from Leon on the matter
under discussion, said DuVal, Westcott deserved thanks "for
his universal action and unlimited efforts to conduct the entire busi-
ness of this body." He was followed "with submission, and rever-
ence and wonder, on most subjects" and would undoubtedly secure
"to his admiring countrymen, by the efforts of his uncommon mind,"
a constitution that would insure their lasting happiness. "Where,
let me ask," he continued in the same sarcastic vein, "was ever such
indefatigable activity, such willing sacrifice of watching and labor
evinced on the part of a single individual to save his fellow-laborers
from the trouble of thinking and acting for themselves?"21 After
the convention the editor of the Floridian remarked that, according
to one's viewpoint, Westcott had been the Ulysses or the Thersites
(i. e., the wise man or the demagogue) of the Locofocos, as the anti-
bank men were called.22

On the subject of taxation and revenue a sectional attitude was
more apparent. Whether by chance or design, three of the five
members of the committee appointed to draft the article were from
East Florida, the other two being Leslie A. Thompson, one of the
Middle Florida members who voted for Reid, and Stephen J. Roche,
from the poor West Florida county of Washington. The committee
report, if adopted, would have revolutionized the tax system, for it
recommended the ad valorem method of assessment for all species of
property. Under the territorial tax laws then in force, an ad va-
lorem tax was levied only on town lots. The two great sources of
revenue, acreage and slaves, were subject to specific taxes, the former
being arbitrarily divided into first rate, second rate, and third rate
lands for assessment purposes. The proposed change would have


lightened the anticipated tax burdens of the East by throwing a
greater incidence on the planting counties of Middle Florida.23
Adoption of the ad valorem system for all property was rejected on
second reading by a vote of 32 to 18. The two members from Wash-
ington County, and Read, Thompson, and Westcott, of Leon, joined
with a majority of the Eastern delegation to sustain the committee.24
David Levy, of St. Johns, then moved that land should be taxed in
proportion to value. Slaves having been exempted from ad valorem
taxation, enough Middle and West Florida men supported the motion
to secure its passage.25 When the article came up for final passage,
however, most of them reversed their votes and the section was
stricken, although the full East Florida vote was cast for it.26

The convention seemed to regard the article on suffrage and quali-
fications of officers as a proper vehicle for the expression of an as-
sorted lot of social, political, economic, and even religious opinions.
Suffrage qualifications were tightened by requiring two years' resi-
dence in the state instead of the three months stipulated by territorial
law. Provision was made for the registration of electors-an inno-
vation in Florida-and an effort was made to bolster the militia sys-
tem by disfranchising men subject to militia duty who failed to en-
roll. A proposal by Thomas Brown to return to viva voce voting at
elections, not used in the territory since 1823, was turned down in
short order.27 The anti-sectarian tone of the convention was demon-
strated in the rejection of a proposal by John L. McKinnon, from the
Scotch-Presbyterian county of Walton, to disqualify from civil office
any person who denied the being of God or a future state of rewards
and punishments28 and by the adoption of a section making minis-
ters of the gospel ineligible for the offices of governor and state sen-
ator and representative.29 In the original draft of the article, bank
officers and ministers had been coupled in the same section. The
convention had the grace to separate the two, but the Westcott-East
Florida faction had no difficulty in retaining the disqualification of
bank officers and extending the period of ineligibility to a year after
connection with a bank had been severed.80 After considerable con-
troversy, participants in a duel were disqualified from office, as were
federal officers and collectors of public moneys who were in arrears.
Dual officeholding was prohibited to all but justices of the peace,
notaries public, constables, and militia officers.31

The normal order of business was finally interrupted on December
28, when the article on census and apportionment was passed over in


order to take up the bank question. The report of the Committee on
Banking and Other Incorporations, submitted on December 13, had
proposed extensive restrictions on the powers of the General Assem-
bly in the future incorporation of banking institutions, but had
omitted any mention of existing banks or of the territorial bonds. It
had even recommended the establishment of one or more state banks
with capital raised by the issuance of bonds guaranteed by mort-
gages on the real property of borrowers. While agreeing to the
main report, Westcott and Levy had brought up the question of ter-
ritorial banks and bonds in a supplementary report. They proposed
alternative modes of procedure in regard to the Union Bank and the
Bank of Pensacola, for which bonds had been issued. The General
Assembly could, at its first session, assume for the State of Florida
the obligations of the territorial bonds if the two banks would submit
their charters for amendment at that session. If the General As-
sembly did not assume the bonds, the banks could secure confirma-
tion of their charters by substituting their own bonds for those of the
territory. The charters of all other territorial banks (including the
Southern Life Insurance and Trust Company, although it was not
mentioned by name) would be subject to modification by the first
General Assembly.s2

The reports fell far short of the ideas of extremists on both sides.
The next day brought a spate of resolutions embodying the varying
views. Bellamy, of Jefferson, would have the convention repudiate
the faith bonds, forbid the General Assembly to raise revenue with
which to pay them, and forever prohibit the pledge of the state's
credit in aid of any corporation. Marvin countered with a proposal
to leave the whole question of the liability of the state for the terri-
torial bonds "open and undecided," but to authorize the General As-
sembly to modify the charters of the territorial banks. If a demand
should ever be made upon the state to pay the bonds, he would have
a convention called to decide what course should be followed. Levy
submitted that the subject of territorial banks and bonds was "proper
for the consideration and action" of the convention, and advocated
repudiation. Fitzpatrick, on the other hand, proposed that the
Union Bank be adopted as the state bank of Florida and that its cap-
ital be increased by $10,000,000, one-half to be owned by the state and
one-half by private stockholders, but the whole to be raised by the
issuance of state bonds.33

Divergent as these proposals were, they were all predicated on the


theory that the bond question was a matter for solution by the people
of Florida, either in this convention or at some future date. Thomas
Baltzell, of Jackson County, injected an entirely new element into the
controversy by moving the appointment of a committee to draft a
memorial asking Congress to annul so much of the territorial bank
charters as authorized "the issuance of any further bonds."34 This
proposal was designed to prevent the issuance of bonds for the
Southern Life Insurance and Trust Company, which, it was under-
stood, would soon apply for them under its charter.35 Under the
rules of the convention, all of the resolutions were laid on the table.
As no immediate action was forthcoming on his motion for a com-
mittee, Baltzell drafted his own memorial and introduced it in the
form of resolutions on December 26. These resolutions declared
that, since the territorial government was the creature of the general
government, Congress had the power, which it was morally bound to
exercise, so to alter, repeal, or modify the bank charters as to protect
the interests of the people of Florida from the results of the Legisla-
tive Council's "improvident legislation."'6

On the same day, William Wyatt offered resolutions declaring that
it was "not expedient" for the convention "to disavow or acknowledge
the liabilities of the Territorial Government." He held, however,
that the subject properly belonged to the people of Florida and should
be "decided by them or their competent authorities when such liabili-
ties should be demanded." Wyatt further proposed that it was ex-
pedient for the convention to vest in the General Assembly supervis-
ory powers over the territorial banks.87

Implicit in these propositions before the convention, when it as-
sumed consideration of banking in committee of the whole, were the
questions that had been raised in 1833-34 concerning the validity of
the Union Bank charter and the bonds issued under it. Extant re-
ports of the convention's proceedings are too fragmentary for the de-
bate to be followed in detail, but the main positions are discernible.
To the bank faction, headed by Fitzpatrick, DuVal, Thomas Brown,
Ward, and Thomas M. Blount, there could be no question either of the
validity of charters and bonds or of the essential soundness of the fi-
nancial theory on which they rested. Anti-bank extremists, such as
Westcott, Thompson, Marvin, Levy, and Abram Bellamy, contended
either that the charters were illegal in the first place or that, even if
the bonds were valid, a primary convention of the people had the right
to repudiate them. Holding the balance between these two groups


were men like Alfred L. Woodward, of Jackson, who regarded banks
and bonds as an evil but could not be persuaded that the convention
could impair the obligation of contracts.
According to Westcott, who based his position on the theory of the
social contract, when the convention was called society was resolved
into its original elements, "all floating around us," and it was the
province of the convention "to gather them up, to select and arrange
them."38 Marvin asserted that the powers of the convention were
supreme "so far as this world is concerned, next the power of
Heaven."39 Woodward, on the other hand, insisted that the conven-
tion could exercise only delegated authority and was bound by the
law creating it. As for the social compact, he said, the people of
Florida were not savages, but were already living in the social state
and under a system of laws. It was only proposed to change from
one form of government to another. But if a social compact were
insisted upon, he took the ground that the people, in their sovereign
capacity, could not infringe upon primary rights without undermin-
ing the very foundation of civil society. How, he asked, could the
convention approach Congress holding in one hand a constitution
that proposed to safeguard contracts and in the other resolutions that
repudiated such obligations?40

On the question of congressional intervention, Westcott and Mar-
vin again took the extreme position. To them the powers of Congress
over a territory were unlimited. Until Florida should become a
state, its people had no political rights under either the constitution
or the treaty of cession.41 Their constitutional theories carried im-
plications that reached far beyond the subject under discussion, and
Wyatt was not slow to state them. Such doctrines were monstrous,
he declared, for "they assume all the grounds contended for by the
abolitionists of the North, in relation to the powers of Congress over
the Territories, and their right to abolish slavery in the Territory of
Florida." John Quincy Adams, or Arthur Tappan himself, "could
not contend for more than this, so far as right is concerned."42 He
would have the people of Florida settle the bank question them-
selves, and not jeopardize their rights and those of the whole South
by an appeal to Congress. Woodward, although he took issue with
the theories of Westcott and Marvin, favored the adoption of Balt-
zell's resolutions. The people of Florida should long ago have me-
-mOrialized Congress on the subject of banks, he said, and it was per-
fectly proper for the convention to do so. Such action could consti-


tute no threat to vested rights, since "the constitution covers every
inch of ground within our wide domain; Territories as well as
States." If Congress could not, or would not, devise measures for
the relief of the people of Florida, they would have to meet their ob-
ligations as best they could.43

The debates in committee of the whole seem to have resulted in the
decision to accept Baltzell's resolutions invoking the aid of Congress
as a substitute for all resolutions under consideration, but not until
they had been amended to "deprecate any course calculated to impair
the obligations of contract or to weaken the credit, or, affect injuri-
ously the character and honor of the people of Florida."44 This was
still unacceptable to the bank men. On January 3, when the com-
mittee of the whole was discharged from further consideration of
banking, Thomas Brown introduced resolutions declaring any inter-
ference with territorial institutions or laws to be beyond the legiti-
mate powers of the convention and referring the territorial banks
and bonds to the consideration of the state government. There was
nothing new in this, but Brown further proposed popular ratifica-
tion of the constitution.45 Consideration of Brown's resolutions was
prevented by a parliamentary ruling that to him, at least, savored of
trickery, and Baltzell's resolutions were formally adopted by a vote
of 38 to 18.46 The question of what action the convention itself
should take in regard to the territorial banks having thus been set-
tled, there remained the question of the policy the state should pur-
sue toward banks in general and the faith bond banks in particular.

The real temper of the convention in regard to banks and other cor-
porations, where no question of the extent of its powers was in-
volved, was shown in the provisions adopted to govern future acts
of incorporation. The General Assembly was forbidden to pass any
act of incorporation except by a two-thirds vote of each house and
unless public notice of intention to apply for a charter had been
given by advertisement in one or more newspapers for three months.
Banking corporations must be composed of at least 20 persons, a ma-
jority of whom must be residents of the state; other corporations
must consist of 10 or more persons, five of whom must be residents.
No bank charter could be granted for more than 20 years or ever re-
newed. Banks were restricted to the business of exchange, dis-
count, and deposit; dealings in real estate, insurance, manufacturing,
and import or export were specifically prohibited. The capital
stock of a bank could not be less than $100,000 and must be created


by the actual payment of specie. Expansion of capital by borrow-
ing was prohibited, as were loans made on stock. The liabilities of a
bank, including circulating notes, were never to exceed twice the
amount of paid-in capital. Dividends were limited to 10 percent.
Annual examination of banks was provided for, as was forfeiture
of charters for violation of any of the foregoing provisions. The
General Assembly was also forbidden to pledge the faith and credit
of the state to raise funds in aid of any corporation.
These provisions were adopted with little difficulty, but differ-
ences as to the powers to be granted to the General Assembly in re-
gard to the territorial banks caused a deadlock. The bank faction
hoped to nullify the effect of the appeal to Congress by having the
convention authorize the General Assembly to make the Union Bank
the state bank of Florida.47 Such action, of course, would have been
tantamount to a recognition of the validity of the bonds. The ex-
treme anti-bank men wanted to grant the General Assembly continu-
ing and practically unlimited powers over territorial banks. Pro-
posal after proposal was advanced, but neither side could secure the
necessary majority. To add to the difficulties of reaching an agree-
ment, members began to absent themselves from the convention.
A crisis occurred on January 4. A quorum was maintained with
difficulty, if at all.48 At the end of the morning session the bank
faction seemed to have won a victory when a motion by Fitzpatrick,
to postpone indefinitely the subject of banking, was carried 29 to
27.49 During the noon recess the anti-bank men mustered sufficient
strength to force reconsideration of Fitzpatrick's motion by a vote
of 31 to 24, but the deadlock continued.50 Neither bank nor anti-
bank men could suggest a formula in regard to the territorial banks
that was acceptable to a majority. Thomas Brown sought to ad-
journ the convention to Tallahassee; later he moved to recommit
everything on the subject of banks to the committee of the whole.
C. E. Bartlett, of Franklin, one of the most level-headed delegates,
twice moved to adjourn sine die. Every proposal was rejected.
A way out of this seeming impasse was found overnight. The first
motion made the next morning was one by E. Carrington Cabell to
submit the constitution to the people for ratification. The motion
was carried by a vote of 52 to 3.51 Ruffled feelings were smoothed
by allowing Thomas Brown to bring his resolutions to a vote. They
were rejected, as was a motion to submit Baltzell's resolutions for
popular ratification. The convention then voted, 29 to 26, to au-


thorize the transmission of Baltzell's resolutions to Congress.52
These matters having been settled a second time, the convention,
with no more ado, accepted a section authorizing the General Assem-
bly, at its first session, to regulate territorial corporations in the in-
terests of the people, but not to the extent of "violating vested rights,
or impairing the obligations of contracts."63 The article on banks
was then passed to a third reading and ordered to be engrossed.
Although further opposition to the decisions thus taken on the
bank question proved futile, it was continued to the last day of the
convention. The article on banks was passed with only minor amend-
ments on January 9. The next day Fitzpatrick protested against its
incorporation in the constitution because a quorum had not been pres-
ent when the vote was taken.54 The convention acknowledged the
truth of this charge by reconsidering and repassing the article, but it
ignored a second protest by Fitzpatrick that the article still was illegal
because there had not been a quorum present on its passage from
second to third reading.55 A last attack was made on Baltzell's res-
olutions when the enrolled copy was presented for the president's sig-
nature on January 10. Cabell moved that all further proceedings
under the resolutions be dispensed with, but his motion was tabled.56
At the next session he entered his formal protest against the resolu-
tions. Not only did they transcend the powers of the convention, he
said, but they were calculated to prejudice vested rights and create
public excitement and unrest. Since the convention had refused to
submit them to the people, they were not an expression of the popu-
lar will but only the opinion of a majority of the individuals compos-
ing the convention.57
While the anti-bank men had not gained all for which they had
contended, they had won a substantial victory. Their success was
due largely to the cooperation of the Eastern delegation and the Mid-
dle Florida members led by Westcott. The two groups parted com-
pany, however, over apportionment of representation. According to
an East Florida delegate, "the Eastern men were weak enough to let
the Bank question come on before the Representative question, and
when Westcott had used them against the banks, he dropped them on
the representation, and laughed at them."58
The opposing attitudes on apportionment were exactly what might
have been expected from the past history of the subject and the inter-
ests involved. Of the 20 existing counties, six were in West Florida,
five in Middle Florida, and nine in East Florida. Furthermore, since

Governor of Florida, 1941-1945


three-fourths of Florida's total area was in East Florida, it was logi-
cal to expect that more counties would be created there in the future
than in the other sections. On the other hand, approximately 47 per-
cent of the population was in Middle Florida, 29 percent in West
Florida, and 24 percent in East Florida. It behooved the East Flor-
ida delegation, therefore, to press for a scheme of representation that
would give more weight to area than to population, while the inter-
ests of the large Middle Florida counties demanded that population
be made the chief factor.

The method of apportionment for the House of Representatives
was easily determined. The principle of allowing at least one repre-
sentative to each county had been established by the congressional
apportionment act of 1834.59 It was provided that the General As-
sembly should apportion representation in 1845, and every tenth year
thereafter, on the basis of the returns of a decennial state census.
For purposes of apportionment, three-fifths of the number of slaves
was to be added to the whole number of whites. Every county was
to have one representative, and additional representatives were to be
allotted to the more populous counties in accordance with a ratio of
representation to be determined by the General Assembly. The size
of the House was limited to 60 members by a new section added to
the article on the legislative department. Although the East op-
posed the measure,60 it was also provided that no new county should
be entitled to separate representation unless its population equaled
the existing ratio and that the population of a county could not be re-
duced below the ratio by division.
The act of Congress establishing the territorial Senate had frankly
apportioned membership on a sectional basis, the senators being
elected at large from the several judicial districts.61 A motion by
Marvin to continue this system by fixing inalterably the number of
senators to be allotted to each judicial district was not even brought
to a vote.62 East Florida wanted a senator for every county.63
Most of the delegates from large counties wanted to authorize more
than one senator to a district if districts were to be determined by
county lines, or, failing that, to permit the division of counties in es-
tablishing districts.64 None of these proposals was adopted. It was
provided that the General Assembly should fix by law the number of
senatorial districts, which should never be less than one-fourth nor
more than one-half the number of representatives. Each district
'should be entitled to only one senator. The population of the several


districts should be as nearly equal as possible according to the ratio
of representation, but no county could be divided in forming a dis-
trict and every county in a district must be adjacent to some other
county in it.
In addition to establishing the principles to be followed by the
General Assembly in apportioning representation, it was necessary
for the convention to determine the apportionment of the first Gen-
eral Assembly. The committee on census and apportionment had
proposed a House of the same size and composition as the convention
and a Senate of 11 members, as provided for the territorial Senate.
Not only was the proposed relative size of the two houses contrary to
the principle adopted for limiting the size of the Senate, but a House
of 56 members was probably objectionable on the ground of expense.
The proposal would have given Middle Florida and West Florida 24
members each in the General Assembly and West Florida 19 mem-
bers. Delegates from Middle and West Florida joined to improve
the strength of their sections relative to that of the East by adopting
a substitute that gave Middle Florida 21 members, East Florida 20,
and West Florida 19. The membership of the House was 41, that of
the Senate 17.65

Both the article on banks and that on census and apportionment
were passed to a third reading on Saturday, January 5. Over the
week end there seems to have been an exodus of delegates;66 some
left to take their seats in the Legislative Council, which convened at
Tallahassee on January 7, others because they were dissatisfied with
the bank provisions. All the members were growing restive. A
tendency to expedite proceedings was shown in frequent calls for the
previous question, and most of the remaining articles were dealt
with in short order.
Rejecting proposals to direct the General Assembly to establish a
general system of education, the convention was content to provide
only that proceeds from school lands should constitute an inviolable
fund, the interest from which should be appropriated solely to the
support of schools and seminaries. The principle of state support
of internal improvements was accepted, with the provision that pro-
ceeds from the sale of any public lands that might be granted to the
state should be applied to that purpose. Neither a proposal to fix
the seat of government permanently at Tallahassee nor one to give
the first General Assembly power to select the site was acceptable.87
Instead, it was provided that Tallahassee should be the capital for


five years; during the succeeding five years the General Assembly
could change the site, but at the end of the ten-year period it must
make a permanent location. The article on amendments and revi-
sion, which later was the subject of criticism, vested the amending
power in two-thirds of each house of two consecutive sessions of the
General Assembly. There was no provision for popular ratification,
Sbut publication of a proposed amendment was required between the
two sessions and prior to the election of house members. A constitu-
tional convention could be called by a two-thirds vote of each house.

SThe most important sections in the article on general provisions, as
subsequent events in Congress proved, were those relating to slav-
__ery. While there could be no question of Florida's fundamental po-
sition on slavery, some members evidently doubted the wisdom of
writing any provision on the subject into the constitution. Attempts
were made to strike out all references to it. The majority, however,
insisted upon retention of clauses prohibiting the General Assembly
from passing laws for the emancipation of slaves and to prevent set-
tlers from bringing their slaves into the state, and empowering the
"-General Assembly to pass laws to prevent free Negroes and mulat-
toes from coming into the state.68

The only other subjects of importance were federal relations and
the measures to be adopted to insure a smooth transition from the
-status of a territory to that of a state. The report of the committee
on federal relations had reiterated Florida's right to admission under
the treaty of cession without reference to population. The control-
ling constitutional provisions, it asserted, were the clauses giving
Congress the right to admit new states, providing that, though the
number of representatives should not exceed one for every 30,000 of
population, each state should have one representative, and declaring
treaties to be the supreme law of the land. Since the treaty of ces-
sion was silent upon the subject of population, the sixth article could
constitutionally be implemented at any time that the people of Flor-
ida might consider themselves competent to assume the responsibili-
ties of a state government. The very calling of the convention was
proof that that time had come. Although refusing to admit that it
had been the intention of the contracting parties for any ratio of pop-
ulation to be required for the admission of Florida, the committee in-
sisted that the most that could be asked under any construction was
35,000, the ratio in effect when Florida was ceded. The committee,
therefore, recommended the adoption of resolutions providing for the


submission to Congress of a. memorial claiming admission to the
Union and requesting Florida's delegate to procure such admission
By the Congress then in session.69 The report was readily concurred
in, but consideration of the resolutions was deferred until an agree-
ment could be reached on the method and time of organizing a state
Some of the Middle and West Florida members were pressing for
the convention to follow the example set by Michigan a few years be-
fore by organizing a state government without awaiting the assent
of Congress. There was good reason why they should attempt to
force the hand of Congress in this manner. Though convinced of
their right to admission under the treaty, they had well-founded
doubts of the cogency of any legal argument that could be presented.
The practice of admitting Northern and Southern states in pairs, be-
gun with the admission of Maine and Missouri and followed by Ar-
kansas and Michigan, made it clear that political expediency, rather
than any legal right, would govern the action of Congress. And no
Northern territory was seeking admission at that time.
The report of the committee on ordinances had made no provision
for the organization of the state government nor for submission of
the constitution for ratification, which had been subsequently de-
cided upon by the convention. A new committee was therefore ap-
pointed with instructions to consider several proposals. Westcott
wanted provision made for the election of state officers and a repre-
sentative in Congress in May. Ward moved that the constitution be
submitted for ratification in May and that state officers be elected
at such subsequent time as the committee might determine. Read
and Levy proposed the election of state officers only after Congress
should have passed an act of admission. Marvin suggested that, in
addition to a referendum on the constitution, a second referendum
should be taken on whether the people desired a state government.70
The committee reported a provision for a referendum on the con-
stitution in May and for the election of state officers in October if
the constitution should be ratified. The proposal for the immediate
election of state officers was rejected by a substantial majority in
favor of a provision for organization of the state government only
after the passage of an act of admission.71 The statehood enthusi-
asts were placated, however, by the adoption of a resolution, intro-
duced by Walker Anderson, for the convention not to adjourn sine die,
but to be subject to meet again at Tallahassee at the request of one-


third of the members should Congress refuse to admit Florida into
the Union. The convention then adopted the resolutions of the com-
mittee on federal relations for an application for admission to be
made to Congress.72
By the morning of January 11, the constitution had been enrolled
and was ready for final passage. After it had been read first by
title, then article by article, and again by title, the president put the
question, "Shall this be the Constitution of Florida?" The ayes and
nays being called for, the vote was, Ayes-55, Nays-1. The lonely
"nay" was cast by Richard Fitzpatrick, but 12 affirmative votes were
cast by proxy. The president then rose and said, "I solemnly pro-
claim and declare, this to be the Constitution of the State of Flor-
ida."73 At the afternoon session, the 41 members present signed the
constitution and the convention adjourned, subject to a call to meet
at Tallahassee should Congress refuse the application for admission.
The work of the convention had proved to be a bitter disappoint-
ment to many delegates from the very constituencies that most keenly
desired a state government. To the Westcott-East Florida faction,
however, it had amply demonstrated the advantages of political ac-
tion based on party principles and party organization. Since Florida
could have no part in national politics so long as she remained a ter-
ritory, territorial politics had, in the main, revolved around person-
alities and sectional interests. Statehood, whenever it should come,
would certainly result in the formation of parties along national lines.
With an eye to this eventuality, the leaders of the successful faction
in the convention resolved to consolidate the advantage they had
gained by continuing their cooperation as an avowed political party.
Not only should this strengthen their position in territorial politics,
but it held forth the promise of dominance in state affairs.
The project was consummated at a meeting held at a St. Joseph
hotel on the evening the convention adjourned. A non-sectional
aspect was given by the election of officers from all sections. Walker
Anderson, of Escambia, who had been accounted a bank man when he
came to the convention, was made president of the meeting and Abram
Bellamy, of Jefferson, Gabriel J. Floyd, of Calhoun,74 and Edwin T.
Jenckes, of St. Johns, were named vice presidents. Westcott took the
lead from the floor and introduced the resolutions that were inevi-
table in any public meeting. The resolutions sought to combat a pop-
ular distrust of political parties by declaring them, when "organized
upon principle . and regulated by regard for the public welfare,"


to be absolutely necessary for the "purity and conservation" of a re-
publican government. More high-flown phrases followed concern-
ing "the Jeffersonian Republican faith," "the cardinal principles of
Democracy," and "the polluting hand of abolition and incendiarism."
But practical politics was not overlooked. On the national level, the
meeting declared its adherence to the Van Buren administration. In
order to achieve concerted action in Florida affairs, it was resolved
to appoint committees of correspondence in each county, with a cen-
tral committee in Leon County.75 There is no direct evidence as to
how well these specific plans were carried out, but the course of
Florida politics during the next six years gave proof of the effective-
ness of the "Jeffersonian Republican Democratic" party.

The convention's memorial,1 repeating the familiar arguments in
favor of Florida's admission to the Union, and copies of the consti-
tution reached Congress late in February. No action was likely at
that session in any event, both because Congress was soon to adjourn
and because the vote on ratification had not been taken. But Down-
ing, who would come up for reelection as delegate in May, was not
disposed to press the matter. Although he had been hostile to the
idea of division when it was first broached, he was beginning to see it
in another light. In January he again presented to Congress the St.
Augustine memorial for division that he had ridiculed the year be-
fore.2 His first reaction had been unduly harsh, he explained in a
circular to his constituents; now he found some merit in the pro-
posal. Several Southern members of Congress, he said, were anxious
for division in order to provide the means of balancing the admission
of both Iowa and Wisconsin when those territories should apply for
entrance into the Union. This was worthy of the consideration of
all Floridians. Even were Florida to come in as one state, it might
be well to divide the territory until the two parts together had the
requisite population. Such a step would increase the wealth and
prosperity of East Florida and would not delay statehood, since he
thought that there was no hope of gaining admission until Florida
could meet the federal ratio.3
The 1839 Legislative Council showed even less disposition than
Downing to support the application for admission under the consti-
tution formed at St. Joseph. The council was interested neither in
statehood nor in division, but in the action the convention had taken
in regard to the banks. Not a single resolution was introduced in
either house endorsing the application. Although division evidently
was mooted in the lobbies of the council, no material support could
be gained for that project. Ten East Florida members, "actuated
by a sense of duty to their constituents," sent a petition to Congress
requesting division of the territory at the Suwannee River,4 but res-
olutions in favor of division, introduced in the Senate by William P.
DuVal, were not brought to a vote.5
The actions of the convention were subjected to a double attack.
S. L. Burritt, of Duval, introduced in the House resolutions seeking


to discredit Baltzell's resolutions by declaring that the convention
had exceeded its authority in their adoption and by expressing con-
fidence in the good management and solvency of the territorial
banks.6 After rejecting a request by Baltzell and Westcott, neither
of whom was a member of the council, for permission "to appear at
the bar of the House" in defense of the convention's resolutions,7 the
House adopted Burritt's resolutions by a vote of 20 to 8.8 Richard
Fitzpatrick followed up this victory of the bank forces with a bill to
nullify the entire work of the convention by repealing the act under
which it was called.9 The House passed the bill, 17 to 7,10 but both
it and Burritt's resolutions were defeated in the Senate by votes of
6 to 5 and 7 to 4, respectively.11
Regardless of how little a majority of the council members might
like the constitution, it was necessary to pay for it. There was a sub-
stantial balance in the treasury at the end of the fiscal year, but the
effects of the Panic of 1837 had been reflected in decreased receipts.
Expenditures, too, would be increased materially by the appropria-
tion of territorial funds for the relief of Indian War victims in East
and West Florida.12 It was obvious that the $20,000 of convention
expenses,13 added to the extraordinary expenses in connection with
the Indian War,14 would bankrupt the territory unless additional
revenue were provided. A revenue bill that doubled the existing tax
rate on land and tripled the rate on slaves met with the usual diffi-
culties. It passed the House, but was defeated in the Senate. On
the last day of the session, however, the Senate reconsidered and
passed the measure at the request of Governor Call, who pointed
out in a special message the pressing financial needs of the terri-
The short campaign that followed adjournment of the council
hardly gave time for clarification of the issues. In East Florida the
constitution was defended on its merits by members of the conven-
tion16 and by the Democratic Herald. Ratification, argued the
Herald, would not hasten statehood; the constitution would provide
a sound fundamental law whenever Florida should be admitted.17
The News, which had been established late in 1838 as the organ of
banks and division, told its readers, on the other hand, that a vote
for the constitution was a vote for a state and "for the most odious
taxation," of which the 1839 revenue act was only the opening
wedge.'" The force of this argument is shown by a presentment of
the Duval County grand jury, who gave it as the opinion of themselves
and "a large portion of their fellow citizens" that it would be "highly


impolitic" to assume "the taxation and expenses attendant upon a
State Government."19 In West Florida, as in the East, opposition
to the constitution seems to have been predicated in part, at least, on
a dislike for statehood,20 while in Middle Florida many advocates of
statehood could not swallow the banking provisions of the constitu-
tion. The constitution "is reprobated in the highest terms by the
State party and the Bank party, who are now identified," wrote a
Tallahassee correspondent of the Florida Herald, "and ... will do all
they can to defeat its adoption."21
In the contest for delegate to Congress, the candidates were Down-
ing and Thomas Baltzell. The former was a Whig who had made a
fairly good record in pressing Florida's needs and wishes on a Dem-
ocratic administration and many voters felt that he should be given a
second term.22 Leigh Read had been mentioned as a candidate,23
but on his refusal to run Democratic support was thrown to Baltzell.
Although he was the author of the famous convention resolutions,
Baltzell was not yet fully identified with the incipient Democratic
party. In some places he was regarded as a Whig.24 His platform
was, "The constitution; Florida, a State and entire,"25 but he felt im-
pelled to disclaim any hostility toward the Union Bank.26 Downing
declared that he disliked the constitution "as a whole" and that he
would vote against it.27 He did his part to confuse issues by coming
out as the "hearty advocate" of statehood in Middle Florida, while
flirting with the divisionists in East Florida.28
The returns of the election, which was held on May 6, 1839, soon
indicated that Downing had received a handsome majority over
Baltzell. The latter ran well in Middle Florida but was over-
whelmed by the East and West Florida vote for his opponent.29
The referendum on the constitution, however, was governed by a
poorly drafted ordinance of the convention which did not state
clearly whether election returns should be made to the governor,
to the president of the convention, or to both, although the latter
officer apparently was directed to proclaim the result. In conse-
quence, official returns were slow in reaching the proper quarters.
Those that were received indicated a very close vote, and the re-
jection of the constitution was generally conceded during the early
summer.30 In August, however, Governor Call certified to Robert
Raymond Reid returns received at Tallahassee that showed a vote
of 2,070 for the constitution and 1,975 against it.31 Believing these
returns to be incomplete and possibly incorrect, Reid addressed an
appeal to the clerks of the county courts to send him certified copies


of the poll books.32 What response this elicited is not known, but
finally, on October 21, Reid proclaimed the ratification of the
constitution without stating the majority in its favor.33
The official returns were not made public by Reid until 1841,34
but the newspapers carried reports that agreed substantially with his
subsequent statement of the votes. These reports showed that rati-
fication had been carried by the narrowest of margins.35 They also
indicated that, unlike the election in 1837, there was very little apathy
on the part of the electorate. Only 5 percent of those who voted for
delegate failed to vote on the constitution. This time the abstainers
were mainly in Middle Florida, where there was an 18 percent smaller
vote on the constitution than for delegate, while in West Florida there
was actually a 14 percent greater vote. While ratification of the
constitution was in doubt, its defeat was charged by some to East
Florida,38 but the returns show that the major upset was in West
Florida. That section, which had given a majority of 69.3 percent
in favor of statehood two years before, now returned a majority of
55 percent against the constitution, due largely to a reversal in the
votes of the commercial towns of Apalachicola and St. Joseph.37 The
East Florida vote for the constitution was larger, both in numbers
and in percentage, than it had been for statehood, although the ma-
jority against ratification was 62 percent. Although Middle Florida
returned a majority of 70 percent for ratification, this represented
a substantial decrease from the 1837 vote for statehood.
The campaign for the October election of council members was in
full swing long before the vote on the constitution was known. Party
lines were frankly drawn in Middle and East Florida, but West
Florida tended to adhere to the old system of personal politics in
council elections. The bank question was the main issue, with state-
hood and division taking secondary but important places. The Lo-
cofocos were given new ammunition by the issue in August of
$274,000 of bonds for the Southern Life Insurance and Trust Com-
pany38 and by the failure of the Union Bank to resume specie pay-
ments after the sale of the $2,000,000 bond issue had been negotiated
in Europe in the spring of 1839.39 The Democratic Floridian, be-
lieving that the constitution had been rejected, advocated a new con-
vention and urged that every candidate be committed on the question
of statehood or division.40 Middle Florida Democrats, led by West-
cott, Thompson, and Leigh Read, nominated council members on an
anti-bank and pro-statehood platform.41 East Florida Democrats
concentrated on the banks. Their opponents sought to divert the



attack by insisting that division was the main issue, but even the
Whig candidates declared against the further issuance of faith
bonds.42 Although division was generally popular in the East, espe-
cially in St. Johns County,43 there were efforts to discredit the divi-
sion bank party by charges that the division movement was origi-
nated and fostered as an abolition project for the establishment of a
free state in East Florida.44 This attack did little to diminish the
East's enthusiasm for division, which was further stimulated by
public meetings in support of the measure.45 As a result of their
division agitation, the Whigs were partially successful in East Flor-
ida, but the Locofocos made almost a clean sweep in Middle Florida
and a majority of the house members elected from West Florida
proved to be anti-bank.
Before the Legislative Council met in January, 1840, the budding
Democratic party achieved another success in the removal of Gover-
nor Call and the appointment of Robert Raymond Reid as his suc-
cessor. Although Call's removal has been attributed solely to his
differences with the War Department over the conduct of the Indian
War,46 it was undoubtedly due in part to the efforts of Florida Lo-
cofocos. Not only was Call the executive who had issued the 1838
Union Bank bonds and, more recently, the first bonds for the South-
ern Life Insurance and Trust Company, but he had defended the
banks in his message to the 1839 Legislative Council.47 The Florid-
ian, which received the news with gratification, said the Democratic
party in the territory had worked strenuously for some time to ef-
fect the change. It regarded the appointment of Reid as particular-
ly good because not only was he completely identified with the party
but he was an uncompromising advocate of the constitution and state-
hood and an opponent of division.48 The satisfaction of the Loco-
focos was tempered somewhat, however, by the fact that Reid's com-
mission did not reach him in time to prevent the issuance by Call of
$126,000 more of bonds for the Southern Life Insurance and Trust
In his annual message to Congress, President Van Buren took a
more direct notice of the situation in Florida by calling the attention
of that body to the Florida bonds. On motion of Thomas Hart Ben-
ton, the Senate promptly passed a resolution requesting the Presi-
dent to procure from the territorial authorities all pertinent infor-
mation relative to Florida banks and bonds. This resolution, to-
gether with the recommendation of Governor Reid that the Legisla-
tive Council make an immediate investigation, resulted in the adop-


tion by the Locofoco House of two reports on the banks. One
indicted the banks for violations of their charters and for mis-
management; the other denied the validity of the faith bonds and
recommended their repudiation. The Senate, all of whose mem-
bers held over from 1839, thereupon passed a resolution condemning
the doctrines advanced in the House reports as disorganizingg in their
character, subversive to settled order of society, dangerous in their
tendencies and calculated in the eyes of the civilized world to destroy
all confidence in the honor, integrity and good faith of the people of
The two houses were almost as far apart on the subject of state-
hood as they were on the banks. In his message of January 13, 1840,
Governor Reid had canvassed the matter in a conciliatory manner
marred only by a veiled reference to division as an abolition proj-
ect.51 He thought that the will of the majority, as expressed in the
votes on statehood and the constitution, should govern and that ad-
mission should be pressed on Congress. He suggested, however, that
the act of admission might be so drawn as to defer the time at which
the state government should become operative and to provide for the
eventual division of the new state. Kingsley B. Gibbs, representa-
tive from St. Johns, raised the question of whether or not the consti-
tution had really been ratified by proposing the appointment of a
joint select committee to examine the returns of the election.52 This
proposal was rejected by the Locofoco House majority on the grounds
that it reflected on the integrity of the president of the convention
and made the council the judge of the acts of the "sovereign people."
As a member of a select committee on statehood and division, Gibbs
next presented a minority report in which he enumerated the objec-
tions of East Florida to the constitution and state government and
advanced that section's arguments for division.53 Unimpressed by
his statements, the House adopted by a large majority the lengthy
majority report54 and resolutions55 in favor of immediate statehood
and against division. In addition to the usual legal arguments in
support of Florida's right to admission, the report averred that there
had been a widespread change of opinion since the May election and
that four-fifths of the people of Florida were now decidedly in favor
of a state government. As for division, far from promoting South-
ern interests as claimed by its proponents, that measure would indef-
initely delay statehood and prevent the admission of any Southern
state for years to come. Unable to prevent the adoption of the res-
olutions favorable to admission, the East Florida divisionists could


only spread their protest on the journals for the benefit of their con-
stituents.56 Even in the Whig Senate the divisionists found small
comfort. That body adopted a majority report and resolutions,
which opposed division but were silent on admission, in preference
to a minority report and resolutions, offered by Isaiah D. Hart, of
Duval County, which declared for the immediate admission of all
Florida west of the Suwannee River and for a separate territorial
government for East Florida.57
By the time the resolutions reached Washington, Downing had
procured the introduction in the House of Representatives of a bill
authorizing Middle and West Florida to form a new constitution and
providing for the admission of the State of West Florida when Con-
gress should have approved its constitution. The bill further pro-
vided that, so soon as West Florida should be admitted, East Florida
should be constituted as a separate territory."8 The omission of
any reference to population, together with the introduction on the
same day of an enabling act for Iowa,59 constituted a tacit acknowl-
edgment that maintenance of the balance between slave and free
states would be the controlling factor in the admission of Florida.
Downing, who later claimed authorship of the Florida bill, defended
it on the grounds that it got rid of a constitution which many believed,
with him, was not voted for by a majority of the people; that it ad-
mitted West Florida (i. e., Middle and West Florida) without delay,
in accordance with her wishes; and that it gratified the East by the
provision for division. In short, said Downing, the bill effected
Downing might like the bill, but no one else was satisfied with it.
East Floridians promptly petitioned Congress to provide for the es-
tablishment of a territorial government in that section, "independent
of the policy or action of the Middle & west."61 In Middle Florida,
both the Whig Sentinel and the Democratic Floridian found fault
with it. The former asserted that it would delay statehood; the
latter labeled it as an anti-administration and abolition measure.62
James D. Westcott wrote Joel R. Poinsett, secretary of war, with
whom the Florida Locofocos had established a political connection,
that division would prostrate Florida and ruin the country.63 The
Apalachicola Gazette objected because, in the projected State of
West Florida, "the scattered commercial towns" would be "entirely
at the mercy of the planting interests of the interior," whereas in an
undivided Florida they could "protect themselves by making com-
mon cause with the kindred interests" of the East.64 The reaction


in the extreme West took the form of renewed agitation for annexa-
tion to Alabama. That section, as the Pensacola Gazette had
pointed out, was willing to help bear the burden of "southern policy"
by acquiescing in the admission of Florida as one state, but felt that
the cost of government would be ruinous if borne by only two sec-
tions.65 The idea of annexation had long been as popular in Escam-
bia County as that of division was in St. Johns. Citizens of Escam-
bia, therefore, expressed their opposition to Downing's bill by peti-
tioning Congress to sanction the transfer of their county to Ala-
During the winter and early spring it had been thought that the
Van Buren administration would support the admission of Florida
in order to secure her electoral votes in the approaching election.67
There was obviously no place for division in this scheme, since there
could be little hope of a Van Buren victory in Florida without the
vote of the Democratic East. A group of Southern senators, on the
other hand, were anxious to divide Florida, which was the only re-
maining slave territory. The way was cleared for action toward
these seemingly disparate ends in February, when the Senate re-
ferred the Florida question to a select committee, dominated by
Southern Democrats, in preference to the standing Committee on the
Judiciary, in which the Whigs had a majority.68 The intended
strategy was revealed in two bills reported on July 2. The first sim-
ply admitted Florida under the St. Joseph constitution."6 The sec-
\' ond provided that, whenever the population, east as well as west of
the Suwannee River, should exceed 30,000, the Florida legislature
might divide the state into two states, which should thereupon be ad-
mitted to the Union without any further proceedings on the part of
Congress.70 The delay in introducing these bills until it was too
late for action at that session seems to have been due to a growing
doubt on the part of the administration as to the strength of Van
Buren sentiment in Florida.
If this was the reason for not pressing the Senate bills, the Oc-
tober council election proved it to have been well founded. Florida's
two most prominent Jacksonian Democrats openly declared for the
Whigs. The defection was permanent in the case of Call, who went
north to campaign for Harrison, though only temporary for DuVal,
who ran for senator from the Middle District as a Harrison Whig.
Downing also came out for Harrison. What influence he had in
Washington had been undermined by the Florida Locofocos, who ap-
parently had used David Levy as liaison man with the administra-


tion,71 and he attacked them bitterly. Charging that he, "a dele-
gate from the people," had been supplanted by "an envoy Jew,"
Downing asserted that the "destinies of Florida, so far as they de-
pend on the will and action of the Federal Executive, are in the keep-
ing of Governor Reid, of James D. Westcott, and of David Levy."72
In Middle and East Florida nominations were made on strict party
lines, Harrison bank candidates being opposed to Van Buren anti-
bank candidates, while bipartisan nominations prevailed in West
Florida.73 The Whigs made a clean sweep in Middle Florida, where
only Jefferson and Hamilton Counties went for the Locofocos. The
Democrats were equally successful in the East. West Florida, pre-
dominantly Whig, elected enough Democratic representatives to give
a small Democratic majority in the house, while its Whig senators
assured a small Whig majority in the upper chamber.
Of far greater influence on Florida's chance for statehood was an
August election in Iowa, where an overwhelming majority voted
against a proposal to call a constitutional convention.74 The Pensa-
cola Gazette recognized the significance of the Iowa vote in its com-
ment, "Florida and Iowa are Siamese twins-one cannot go without
the other."75 Friends of statehood continued to agitate the subject,
however, and held nonpartisan meetings in November and December
at Campbellton, Quincy, Apalachicola, and St. Joseph.76 These
meetings sought to win the East by offering to support the Southern
plan for the future division of Florida after its admission as one
state, but East Florida was not to be turned from its demand for a
separate territorial government. Elsewhere in the territory it was
reported that East Floridians went so far as to threaten to "resist
with force any attempt to saddle them with the burthens of state
In his message to the 1841 Legislative Council, Governor Reid be-
sought the East to abandon the "suicidal" policy of division. Hop-
ing to quiet the charges that the constitution had not been ratified,
he offered to transmit a statement of the vote upon the request of the
council.78 The request was promptly made and complied with.
Reid's statement showed that there was a majority of 119 votes for
ratification, but that 70 votes, obviously intended to be cast against
the constitution, had been rejected because given for "no state" or
"no convention."79 The Senate's reaction to the statement was the
passage of a bill to hold another election upon the subject of state
government.80 The preamble of the bill recited that such an elec-
tion would settle conclusively not only doubts entertained as to the


fairness of some of the returns of the vote on the constitution, which
exhibited "at best a very meagre majority in favor of that instru-
ment," but an uncertainty as to the real desire of the people "to sup-
port the burthens of a State Government" in view of the embar-
rassed financial condition of the territory.81 Evidently, no such
doubts were entertained by a majority of the House, which rejected
the bill. To the contrary, that body again adopted a memorial urg-
ing the early and favorable action of Congress on Florida's applica-
tion for admission. Continued neglect of their just appeals for
statehood, it hinted, might cause the people of Florida to exercise
"their inalienable rights" and "sovereign power" independently of
Congress.82 And again, East Florida members spread on the jour-
als their protest and arguments in favor of division.83
The campaign for delegate had started unusually early, Downing
and George T. Ward, of Leon, having announced even before the
council met. Both were Whigs, "running on their own hook" with-
out the semblance of a territory-wide nomination.84 The Democrats
were so slow to put a candidate in the field that their cause looked
hopeless. Late in February a meeting at Tallahassee of-representa-
tives from all districts-presumably a caucus of Democratic council
members--astutely nominated David Levy.86 Downing had com-
pletely alienated Middle and West Florida by his inconsistent course
on statehood and division, which had finally led him to make the flat
statement, "Set me down as the candidate pledged against a State,
and for division."86 There was no offset for this in his Washington
record. He had accomplished nothing for Florida during his sec-
ond term and was under attack in East Florida for his failure to se-
cure payment for East Florida volunteers called out by Governor
Call in 1838.87 Ward opposed division and favored statehood, but
his long association with the Union Bank as a director and stock-
holder and his stand "in favor of preserving the Faith of the Terri-
tory" by recognizing the validity of the bonds told against him.88
Levy, on theotheher hand, was completely identified with the anti-
anik, pro-state Locofoco faction. He had always been_.quietly op-
posed- to a separate territorial governme-n-f-Tor tast Florida,89 but
th-emere fact of his being an Easterner gave him strength in that
section, as did his activities in Washington as agent for collection of
the volunteers' claims.90 Locofoco strength in Middle and East
Florida gave Levy the necessary plurality for election, although his
Whig opponents polled 500 more votes than he.91
The unpleasant task of proclaiming this Democratic success fell to


Richard K. Call, who had again become governor early in April, 1841,
after President Harrison had removed Reid to make way for him.
Shortly before Call's reappointment, the event long predicted by the
Locofocos occurred when application was made to the governor for
the payment of interest in default on bonds of the Bank of Pensa-
cola.92 The consequent Locofoco landslide in the October election
for House members surprised no one, said the Pensacola Gazette, "as
the locos hold the comfortable opinion that the Bank Bonds are
void."93 Though Governor Call believed that both bonds and inter-
est were ultimate obligations on the territory, he insisted that the
first liability rested on the stockholders. He recommended to the
1842 council, therefore, the passage of resolutions directing bank
creditors to exhaust all legal recourse against the stockholders be-
fore applying to the territory for relief.94 But the council reflected
the temper of its constituents and seized the opportunity to deal once
and for all with the faith bonds. Even the hold-over Senate joined
with the House to pass resolutions denying that the territorial legis-
lature possessed, or was "ever invested with the authority to pledge
the faith of the Territory, so as to render the citizens of the Terri-
tory responsible for the debts, or engagements of any corporation"
chartered by the legislature.95 The council also passed, over Call's
veto, an act prescribing the method of canceling such faith bonds as
might come into the hands of territorial authorities and forbidding
the issuance of further bonds,96 but upheld his veto of an act that
would have closed the Union Bank on the grounds of insolvency.97
The territory could not have paid the interest on the bonds even if
the council had been willing to do so. Never before had the terri-
torial treasury been so insolvent. The 1839 revenue act had been
ignored in both East and West Florida, and the councils of 1840 and
1841 had suspended the collection of taxes on lands and slaves for
those years, leaving taxes on auction sales as the principal source of
revenue.98 Although at the end of the 1841 fiscal year there were
some $13,000 of auditor's warrants outstanding, with only $265.84
in the treasury,99 the council adopted a resolution indefinitely sus-
pending the assessment and collection of taxes.100 This refusal to
impose taxes was due to widespread economic distress, for to the ill
effects of the continued Indian War and of the currency depreciation
and credit restriction that followed the banking debacle had been
added a failure of the cotton crop in 1840 and 1841. To give some
relief to debtors, hard pressed by northern creditors and the Union
Bank, which was intent on bolstering its own shaky structure, the


council passed a law staying the sale of property under execution
upon payment of 10 percent of the amount of the judgment every 60
Insolvency and depression did not deter the council from pressing
for statehood. Influenced, perhaps, by the report that Iowa was
ready to apply for admission,102 the two houses acted together for
the first time to adopt resolutions requesting the delegate to urge
upon Congress Florida's right and desire to be admitted to the
Union.108 Though East Florida members refused to vote for the
resolutions, they acquiesced in them to the extent of refraining from
making a formal protest. James D. Westcott, leader of the Loco-
focos in this council as he had been in the constitutional convention,
proposed a resolution providing for the election of state officers in
October and the organization of a state government immediately
thereafter should the Congress then in session not admit Florida.104
Even the Locofoco House, which, according to the Whig Sentinel,
"had barely enough of whig leaven to keep it from self-destruc-
tion,"106 would not accede to the proposal, which received the vote of
only a handful of Middle Florida representatives.
During the spring, Middle Florida sentiment in favor of organi-
zation of a state government prior to admission increased until it
assumed the form of a well organized movement. Resentment was
general at the repeated removal of officers for party reasons, first
by a Democratic and then by a Whig administration. Not only had
two governors and secretaries 106 been removed within as many years,
but numerous changes had been made in lesser offices. Particularly
distasteful were the appointments in quick succession to the judge-
ship of the Middle District of two non-Floridians-Alfred Balch, of
Tennessee, and Samuel J. Douglas, of Virginia. Even worse in its
effect on the popular mind was the appointment of John G. Camp,
of Ohio, as marshal of the district. At a time when 1,500 executions
were said to have issued from the courts in five months, when, in
spite of the relief law, property was being sacrificed at forced sale
at less than one-tenth of its value,107 the people wanted "ministerial
officers of the laws who have sympathy with them-who are of them
-who are with them."'10 A state government, and the consequent
right of the people to choose their own officers, was an obvious
answer to this situation. Some persons even thought that organiza-
tion of a state government would extricate them from the financial
morass by arresting proceedings for the collection of debts.109 Their
hope, both political and economic, lay "in a new order," which could

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